Oil falls toward $93 as China tightens lending

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By PAMELA SAMPSON, Associated Press

BANGKOK (AP) — The price of oil fell Monday amid growing worries that China's decision to clamp down on informal lending could hamper growth in a major energy consuming country.

Benchmark oil for August delivery was down 24 cents to $93.45 per barrel at midday Bangkok time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell $1.71 to close at $.93.69 on the Nymex on Friday.

Signs of an economic slowdown are already visible in the world's No. 2 economy. Last week, a private survey showed manufacturing in China contracted at a faster pace in June to a nine-month low. Moreover, Chinese economic growth slowed unexpectedly in the first quarter to 7.7 percent and forecasters have cut their growth outlook for the year. Asian stock markets fell, and oil prices moved along with them.

"Weaker growth and funding concerns in China added another layer of uncertainty to the market psyche," analysts at Credit Agricole CIB in Hong Kong said in an email commentary.

Brent crude, which is used to price oil used by many U.S. refineries to make gasoline, was down 47 cents to $100.44.

In other energy futures trading on the Nymex:

— Wholesale gasoline fell 0.7 cent to $2.739 a gallon.

— Heating oil fell 0.6 cent to $2.838 per gallon.

— Natural gas fell 1.2 cents to $3.759 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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