Oil futures have retreated for five straight sessions amid worries that the U.S. recovery has stalled and demand for oil and fuel is weakening. Gasoline demand typically peaks this time of year, but a number of reports have suggested that drivers aren't hitting the road like they usually do in the summer. Gasoline demand for the four-week period ended July 29 fell 3.6% from a year ago, the Department of Energy reported Wednesday. That's the weakest July reading in nine years.
Although demand in emerging markets like China, the world's No. 2 oil consumer, have kept a floor under oil prices recently, analysts say additional signs of weakness in the U.S. could send the Nymex contract back below $90 a barrel for the first time since late June.
Front-month September reformulated gasoline blendstock, or RBOB, recently traded down 2.62 cents, or 0.9%, to $2.9051 a gallon. September heating oil declined 0.90 cent, or 0.3%, to $3.0100 a gallon.