The price of oil slipped below $94 a barrel Tuesday due to concerns about weakening economic growth in Germany and expectations of a rise in U.S. crude stockpiles.
By early afternoon in Europe, benchmark crude for February delivery was down 31 cents to $93.83 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 58 cents to finish at $94.15 per barrel in New York on Tuesday.
Germany's economy grew only 0.7 percent in 2012, suggesting it shrank in the fourth quarter, according to government figures. For 2012, the economy still grew faster than the rest of the 17 European Union countries which use the euro, but it showed a sharp drop over 2011, when it grew 3 percent.
The struggles of Europe's largest economy corroborated figures released Monday which showed industrial output across the eurozone down in November for the third straight month. The dispute in Washington about the U.S. debt ceiling was also discouraging oil investors, who will later in the day monitor fresh information on U.S. stockpiles of crude and refined products.
Data for the week ending Jan. 11 is expected to show a rise of 2.5 million barrels in crude oil stocks and of 3 million barrels in gasoline stocks, according to a survey of analysts by Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos.
The American Petroleum Institute will release its report on oil stocks later Tuesday, while the report from the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration — the market benchmark — will be out on Wednesday.
Brent crude, used to price international varieties of oil, was down 7 cents to $111.81 per barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London. In other energy futures trading on the Nymex: — Wholesale gasoline was down 0.91 cent at $2.7628 a gallon.
— Natural gas fell 0.1 cent to $3.363 per 1,000 cubic feet. — Heating oil rose 0.13 cent to $3.0638.
Pamela Sampson in Bangkok contributed to this report.