Oil prices fell slightly Friday as mixed economic reports offered few clues about future energy demand.
Retail sales improved slightly in July by 0.5 per cent. But consumer sentiment fell to its lowest level in more than 30 years.
After gaining early, prices for benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude ended the day down 34 cents at US$85.38 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
In London, Brent crude rose 1 cent to US$108.03 a barrel on the ICE Futures Exchange.
In the past two weeks, WTI'S price has fallen about $12. Investors are concerned about global economic growth, ongoing financial problems in Europe and signs of a slower economy in China, a huge consumer of oil and other commodities.
Falling oil prices are providing some relief for motorists. The national average for gasoline fell 1.4 cents overnight to US$3.606 a gallon, according to AAA, Wright Express and the Oil Price Information Service. That's 9.4 cents less than a week ago but still 83 cents more than a year ago.
In other Nymex trading, heating oil rose 0.45 cent to finish at US$2.9037 a gallon, gasoline fell 0.51 cent to finish at US$2.8222 a gallon and natural gas futures fell 4.8 cents to finish at US$4.06 per 1,000 cubic feet.