Oil prices fall 2 percent

By Chris Kahn Associated Press

NEW YORK — Oil prices fell Monday on concerns about the economic recovery.

West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark crude, fell $1.92 to $101.39 per barrel. Brent crude, which is used to price oil imported by U.S. refineries, slipped $2.13 to $121.30 per barrel.

The U.S. economy added just 120,000 jobs in March— half as much as each of the previous three months. The government reported the disappointing data on Friday, but Monday was the first day oil markets were open. Stocks also fell.

The slower pace of hiring is raising concerns that growth in the economy and energy demand could weaken.

Political events also weighed on oil markets. Iran announced over the weekend that it is willing to discuss its nuclear program with the West. That eased fears of a prolonged standoff that could further squeeze world oil supplies. Already, international sanctions have forced some of Iran’s biggest oil importers to cut off shipments and find other sources of crude.

Renewed negotiations could lead to an agreement that lifts those sanctions. It also reduces the risk that Iran will try to choke off exports from other oil producers by closing shipping routes out of the Persian Gulf.

In the U.S., gasoline prices fell by about a penny over the weekend to $3.927 per gallon, according to auto club AAA, Wright Express and Oil Price Information Service. Pump prices have eased after nearing $3.94 a gallon last week.

Experts still say that prices could peak this month between $4.25 and $4.35 per gallon.

In other energy trading, heating oil fell by 4.6 cents to $3.123 per gallon while gasoline futures fell 7.2 cents to $3.268 per gallon. Natural gas fell by less than a penny to $2.084 per 1,000 cubic feet.