Recovering US economy fails to reinvigorate crude oil prices, as Greece ponders bailout

Crude oil prices fell below $97 per barrel today as the possibility of a Greek default loomed over the troubled euro zone. The addled nation is now in the process of deliberating over its second bailout offering, causing both traders and analysts to worry that an economic collapse in Europe is inevitable, and subsequently justifying severe drops on the crude oil price chart.

West Texas Intermediate crude oil prices for delivery in March fell $1.03 to $96.81 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The American benchmark contract gained significant ground on Friday, rising $1.48; however, the continued pressure stemming from Europe prevented the winning streak to bleed over into a second week.

On the London-based ICE Futures Exchange, Brent futures for settlement in March lost 68 cents to settle at $113.90 per barrel.

Investors expressed their concern that Greece’s leaders will fail to enforce the necessary austerity measures if they accept the bailout funds on offer. The final decision by the nation’s newly established government is scheduled to be announced later today. However, the perpetual lack of sureness surrounding Greece is causing crude oil price charts to be riddled with uncertainty.

Though last week’s boosts were supported by falling unemployment figures out of the US, this week, the euro zone and its lingering debt troubles once again surfaced as a major point of worry.

However, the US economy may still be able to salvage global crude oil prices by the end of the week, as some of the nation’s largest companies are due to announce their fourth quarter earnings. Cisco Systems, Walt Disney and Coca Cola will all issue their results by Friday. In both the near and long term however, the situation in Europe will likely remain as the main governing factor for the path crude oil will take in the first quarter of 2012.