Crude oil prices fell sharply as traders focused on rising fuel supplies and the warmer-than-normal weather in the United States.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, crude oil for January delivery dropped 2.24 dollars to settle at 43.25 dollars a barrel after falling as low as 42.50 during the intraday trading. Meanwhile, on London's International Petroleum Exchange the January Brent crude-oil futures contract fell 2.16 dollars to close at 40.15 dollars per barrel.
The downward momentum in oil prices was fueled Thursday by three factors. First, the Energy Department revised its natural gas supply report for the previous week, saying gas inventories inthe week that ended November 19 fell by only 17 billion cubic feet,65 percent less than the 49 billion initially reported.
Second, the sell off in oil futures was also bolstered by comments from an official at Organization of Petroleum Exporting Country OPEC) that the group was likely to keep production at current levels when it met next Friday. Third, rising US energy inventories caused speculators to abandon bets that prices would climb, which further pressured on the oil prices.
However, analysts were divided about the future oil prices. Many said the two-day drop in oil prices could yet be reversed if the North American winter began to bite, while others believed that getting past 45 dollars per barrel would trigger more sellingand the market could easily see another collapse in oil prices.
(Information from Xinhuanet)