Global benchmark for oil drops below $100 a barrel for first time since late April. Oil prices rose to above $120 a barrel only a month ago. Energy experts say there was no fundamental change in the energy market. Some signs that fuel sales may be slowing in the United States.

There is a sharp divergence of opinion among experts about where the oil price will go in the weeks and months ahead. Prices will ultimately depend on how deep an eventual recession might be and how strong Chinese demand will become as the country emerges from the Covid pandemic. There is no sign that the Russian war in Ukraine will end anytime soon.

The national average price for regular gasoline on Wednesday dropped 2 cents to $4.78 a gallon. Average gas prices topped $5 a gallon just over three weeks ago. If Europe runs short of natural gas next winter, utilities will be forced to burn more oil, which could crimp supplies and raise crude prices.

Oil stocks, which have performed well all year, are suddenly falling. Shares of Hess and Marathon Petroleum dropped by more than 2 percent Wednesday. Motorists are still paying $1.65 a gallon more on average than a year ago. If a hurricane were to strike the Gulf of Mexico, damage to refineries could send gas and diesel prices soaring.
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