Oil prices on Thursday slumped to their lowest level since December as investors continued to worry about economic chaos in Greece and Europe.
Brent crude oil fell more than two percent to $107.10 per barrel, and U.S. crude oil dropped 37 cents to $92.44 per barrel. Recent trading has seen pressure on oil prices from the growing euro zone debt crisis.
Stocks on the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 156 points or 1.24 percent on Thursday, closing at 12,442.
Despite the recent decline in oil prices, it was reported yesterday that President Obama could tap the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in the coming weeks as tougher sanctions against Iran begin to tighten at the end of June. Analysts believe those sanctions could remove up to 1 million barrels of oil from the market, resulting in a spike in oil prices. July 1 is when the European Union is set to stop all oil imports from Iran.
Sanctions are designed to force the Iranians to halt their nuclear weapons program. The U.S. Senate was set to vote Thursday on a new round of economic sanctions against Iran, but action was blocked by Republicans who wanted more time to examine the package.
Iranian leaders have agreed to return to negotiations, which has helped lower oil prices, but fewer analysts expect a breakthrough in negotiations to occur before the end of June.
Average U.S. gasoline prices fell 3 cents per gallon this week to $3.75, which is 20 cents below the same period last year. Average diesel prices declined 5 cents this week to an even $4 per gallon.