|Oil prices plunge, gas prices follow
|COLUMBUS, Ohio – Crude prices tumbled Friday and a gallon of gasoline fell below year-ago levels for the first time in 2008, even as OPEC announced a huge production cut in an attempt to halt the declines.
Crude prices have now fallen 56 percent from the highs reached in July, and more than $41 per barrel in just the last month.
Gathered in Vienna, Austria, on Friday to stanch plunging oil prices, OPEC announced it would slash oil production by 1.5 million barrels a day.
Oil prices plunged more than 5 percent.
Investors paid little heed to OPEC attempts to limit supply, instead focusing on global demand as financial markets spiraled downward in Asia, Europe and then the United States.
Light, sweet crude for December delivery fell $3.69 to settle at $64.15 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Prices had fallen as low as $62.85 earlier in the day.
The continuing decline in oil prices, even in the face of OPEC production cuts, only cemented bearish sentiment on the oil market.
"All OPEC confirmed for the market is how weak demand is," oil trader and analyst Stephen Schork said.
Supporting that view was a report released Friday by the U.S. Department of Transportation that showed the largest monthly decline in miles driven in 66 years.
In the month after gas prices peaked at $4.11 per gallon, Americans drove 5.6 percent less, or 15 billion fewer miles, in August 2008 compared with August 2007 — the biggest single monthly decline since the data was first collected regularly in 1942.