A dip in the price of energy is providing a welcome respite from an otherwise grim economic picture. Oil, which neared $150 a barrel earlier this month, has dropped $23, or 16%, since July 3; natural gas prices are down 33%. AAA says nationwide gas prices have dropped to $3.94 a gallon, down from $4.11 on July 17, as Americans are driving less. Many analysts think energy prices could keep falling through the end of the year, the New York Times reports.
“The market went out of control on the upside," said one economist, "but market participants realized there was much more demand destruction than had been thought even a month ago, and that, in fact, more supplies are coming onto the market.” OPEC's president yesterday said oil could drop as low as $70 a barrel. Still, experts say a flare in Middle East tensions or a hurricane hitting the Gulf Coast could pop gas prices back above $4 a gallon.