Light Crude Oil Below $100 a barrel

Light crude oil prices have fallen below $100 amid signs that refineries along the Gulf of Mexico coast will soon resume operations after shutting for Hurricane Ike and escaping major damage.

“It looks like we’ve dodged another bullet,” said Peter Beutel, president of energy consultant Cameron Hanover Inc. in New Canaan, Connecticut. “The refineries in the Houston area seem to have come out of the storm remarkably intact.”

Crude oil for October delivery fell $2.10, or 2.1 percent, to $99.08 a barrel at 1:22 p.m. on the Nymex. Futures touched $98.55, the lowest since Feb. 26. Prices are up 25 percent from a year ago. Gasoline for October delivery fell 12.91 cents, or 4.7 percent, to $2.6405 a gallon in New York.

Oil prices have fallen to $96 barrel

On Saturday, the chief executive of Eni, Italy’s top oil company, predicted that prices might rapidly drop as low as $70 a barrel.

The financial crisis finally took the wind out of the great oil rally. Lehman Brothers filing for bankruptcy and Merrill Lynch agreeing to sell itself to Bank of America. Analysts said the market had become convinced that Wall Street’s meltdown could spread to other parts of the world, and that Asian economic growth would suffer, slowing down global oil demand.