Consumers to feel winter's bite more from weather than heating oil prices


U.S. consumers in the last year or so have been whipsawed by the price of oil. Having seen crude oil prices surge to more than $147 a barrel in July 2008, prices tumbled steadily right into the new year, only to resume a steady climb on investor speculation that the world economy was heading out of recession. After falling to around $30 a barrel last winter, U.S. crude oil prices more than doubled to about $70 a barrel by June.

In recent weeks, however, prices have once again begun to fall as investors reassess whether the economy is indeed on the rebound. On Friday, the price of a barrel of sweet crude, the kind favored by the United States, rose slightly to $66.20. But for the week, crude prices retrenched more than eight percent, the biggest weekly loss in more than two months.