Oil prices slide, metals correct on hopes of end to US money printing

LONDON, July 25, 2008 (AFP) – Oil prices fell further this week, leaving them about 20 dollars off record highs, while there were also losses for metals futures. OIL: Oil prices headed south again amid a drop in fuel demand across the United States, the world’s biggest consumer of energy.

Crude futures had risen earlier Friday and on Thursday in what traders described as a technical rebound following two days of heavy falls.

Ken Hasegawa, manager of the energy desk at Newedge brokerage, cited by Down Jones Newswires, said on Friday that the market would trade in a short-term range of 123-128 dollars.

On Wednesday, crude futures had tumbled by about four dollars after a bigger-than-expected increase in US gasoline (petrol) reserves signalled weaker demand in the United States.

At the same time, concerns eased over Hurricane Dolly in the Gulf of Mexico as the storm tracked away from oil installations there.

Oil prices have shot to a series of record highs this year, partly because of political tensions involving oil-producing nations like Iran, which refuses major powers’ demands to halt its disputed nuclear programme.