US crude prices slid almost 3 per cent in afternoon trading on Tuesday, extending declines from earlier in the day and striking the lowest level since late March.
West Texas Intermediate was off by 2.7 per cent at $47.52 a barrel at pixel time. Brent, the international benchmark, dropped by 2.4 per cent to $50.28 a barrel.
Tuesday’s slide put pressure on the shares of American energy companies, knocking the S&P 500 sector down by 0.79 per cent, against the broader index that was flat on the day.
The fall in prices comes amid lingering concerns over demand for gasoline, one of the major products that crude is refined into. US government data released over the past two weeks have pointed to rising petrol inventories ahead of the key summer driving season.
A fresh round of inventories data from the government is due out on Wednesday, which is forecast to show another build in gasoline; however, crude stocks are expected to shrink. A private industry report on inventories, which sometimes moves markets, is due out on Tuesday night.