A report from JBC Energy in Vienna noted that refineries are undergoing a higher than normal rate of maintenance. That reduces demand for oil, hurting the price. And Jim Ritterbusch of Ritterbusch and Associates in Illinois said recent strength in the dollar is a major reason that oil is down 7 percent a little more than 2 weeks.
The increase in the dollar makes crude more expensive and a less attractive investment for traders using other currencies. While the euro was worth more than $1.36 Feb. 4, on Monday it was trading just under $1.30.
In the U.S., refinery maintenance contributed to the early-year spike in gasoline prices. Refineries are switching from winter blends of gasoline to summer varieties, which are formulated to reduce pollution. That switch requires some downtime for a refinery, cutting supplies and boosting the cost of gas. The transition is still going on, and could somewhat mitigate the impact of cheaper oil in gas station prices.
Brent crude, used to price many kinds of oil imported by U.S. refineries, fell 31 cents to $110.09 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.
In other energy futures trading on the Nymex:
• Wholesale gasoline fell 3 cents to $3.10 a gallon.
• Heating oil slipped 1 cent to $2.92 a gallon.
• Natural gas gained 7 cents to $3.53 per 1,000 cubic feet.