Oil slides below $105

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Crude oil prices fell below $105 a barrel Tuesday on concerns about global economic growth and the prolonged tensions over Iran’s nuclear program.

Benchmark oil for April delivery was down $1.87, or 1.7 percent, to $104.85 a barrel in early afternoon trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. In London, Brent crude fell $1.49 to $122.31 per barrel on the ICE Futures Exchange

On Monday, China lowered its official growth target to 7.5 percent from 8 percent, cementing concerns that the Asian exporter — a bellwether for global economic activity — will see business slow down.

Stocks, gold and other assets were also sharply down Tuesday.

In the U.S., worries about Greece come on top of concerns about a recession in Europe and slowing economic growth in China. Some investors also believe the rally in U.S. stocks this year — the Standard & Poor’s 500 is up 7 percent — has come too far too fast.

The price of gold fell $33 per ounce, almost 2 percent, to $1,670 per ounce. Silver, platinum and copper all fell more than 2 percent, because of concerns about Europe and weaker economic demand in China.

“Global growth fears now are hitting home, and we’re seeing selling across the board,” said Matt Zeman, a market analyst for Kingsview Financial.

Crude has risen from $96 last month amid investor concern that a military conflict aimed at destroying Iran’s nuclear capabilities would disrupt global oil supplies. Analysts say Saudi Arabia and other oil producers do not have enough spare capacity to quickly make up for Iran’s exports, which totaled 2.6 million barrels a day in 2011. Some experts say Iran is trying to build a nuclear weapon, though the country denies it.