Published March 11, 2011
Oil prices, which have been volatile in recent sessions, fell more than 1.5% as traders mulled the impact the massive earthquake that shook Japan would have on demand for crude.
The 8.9 magnitude earthquake, following aftershocks and tsunami dealt a strong blow to numerous industrial areas near the Tokyo, the Japanese capital.
Light, sweet crude had traded as low as $99.01 several hours after the quake, but have come back since, recently falling $1.85, or 1.8%, to $100.86.
"The natural disaster could ... upset the country's nascent economic recovery," according to a report by IHS Global Insight.
Japan is the world's third largest economy and importer of commodities. If the country's demand for crude oil dwindles, it could put significant downward pressure on worldwide oil prices.
Today's downturn "isn't totally about Japan," said Darin Newsom, senior commodities analyst at DTN.
Indeed, traders were keeping a close eye on the "day of rage" protests planned for Friday that turned out to be fairly non-violent according to several media reports.
"There was a lot of anticipation about the 'day of rage' in Saudi Arabia" that didn't materialize, Newsom said.
On the consumer front, the average price for a gallon of regular gas is still on the rise, costing $3.54 on average nationwide, as compared with $3.12 a month ago and $2.78 last year.