Oil Prices Continue to Fall

SINGAPORE (AP) - Oil prices extended losses for a second day
Tuesday in Asia, falling below $38 a barrel, as a loss of investor
confidence that the global economy will recover soon swept across
stock and crude markets.

Benchmark crude for April delivery fell 59 cents to $37.85 a
barrel by midday in Singapore on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
The contract overnight fell $1.59 to $38.44.

U.S. stock indexes fell to the lowest since 1997 on Monday on
investor fear that a government stimulus package and plan to rescue
ailing banks won't keep the worst recession in decades from
deepening.

Months of dismal economic news, highlighted by massive job cuts,
have weighed on the psyche of investors and undermined faith that
the economy will recover in the second half.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 3.4 percent Monday and the
Standard & Poor's 500 index dropped 3.5 percent.

Most Asian stock markets also fell sharply at the open on
Tuesday.

"The stock and crude markets are reflecting the same negative
sentiment about the broader economy," said Gerard Burg, minerals
and energy economist with National Australia Bank in Melbourne.

Even large output reductions by the Organization of Petroleum
Exporting Countries have failed to boost prices. OPEC has announced
4.2 million barrels a day of production cuts since September, and
the group's leaders have said it's likely the 13-member cartel will
cut more supply at a meeting on March 15.

"There's relatively little that further production cuts can
do," Burg said. "They've already cut a sizable amount of their
production."

The fall in oil prices - crude has plummeted 74 percent since
July - may itself eventually trigger a rally, as producers of
high-cost fields shut down operations to avoid losses.

"Some producers are probably struggling to be profitable, and
that puts a constraint on the downside," Burg said. "It puts a
very real floor in place."

Burg said he expects oil to trade between $35 and $45 a barrel
for the next few months.

In other Nymex trading, gasoline futures fell 0.39 cent to $1.04
a gallon. Heating oil dropped 1.14 cents to $1.16 a gallon, while
natural gas for March delivery slid 5.7 cents to $4.04 per 1,000
cubic feet.

Brent prices fell 47 cents to $40.52 on the ICE Futures exchange
in London.


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