Energy prices, a key reason for the recent spike in U.S. inflation, continued to retreat Wednesday.
Crude oil futures in New York fell to a six-week low on expectations that an economic slowdown will reduce demand in the United States, the world's largest energy consumer.
Natural gas futures also slid.
The economic slowdown is expected to compound a seasonal lull in refinery demand for crude oil in the second quarter--before the summer driving season increases consumption of gasoline. That will offset any production cuts adopted next month by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, analysts said.
"OPEC's leaning toward a cut of something less than a million barrels a day, but there's still an overall sentiment in the market that there's a lot of supply out there," said Justin Fohsz, a broker at Starsupply Petroleum in Englewood, N.J. "Demand is not going to be there with the economy going slower."