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Policy: Economy

Oil drops below $99 on China slowdown jitters

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News,Business,China,Economy,Oil,Wall Street

The price of oil dropped below $99 a barrel Wednesday as the possibility of a deeper economic slowdown in China fed expectations of weaker demand.

Benchmark U.S. crude for April delivery was down $1.34 to $98.70 at 1030 GMT in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract dropped $1.09 to close at $100.03 a barrel Tuesday.

China's lower exports in February have fueled worries of a further slowdown in the world's second-largest economy, which would tamp down demand for energy. China's economic growth of 7.7 percent last year was the lowest in two decades.

Oil prices have been dropping after being pushed higher last week by fears that Russia's military incursion into the Crimean peninsula might lead to U.S. and European sanctions on one of the world's largest energy suppliers. Expectations of larger U.S. stockpiles and potential weaker demand as winter ends later brought futures back down.

Brent crude, used to set prices for international varieties of crude, was down 65 cents to $107.23 on the ICE exchange in London.

In other energy futures trading on Nymex:

— Wholesale gasoline was down 2.1 cents at $2.946 a gallon.

— Heating oil was down 2.4 cents at $2.937 a gallon.

— Natural gas was steady at $4.606 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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