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Falling Demand Continues to Bring Down Oil Prices

December 22, 2008

NEW YORK --- Crude oil on Monday fell more than $2 a barrel on speculation that OPEC will fail to boost prices as the global recession continues to curb demand, Bloomberg reported.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries is determined to stabilize oil markets, Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi told reporters in Doha, Qatar, on Sunday. 

However, there are continuing signals that demand will persist to decline. Japanese crude-oil imports fell 17 percent to 3.71 million barrels a day last month, according to a report from the finance ministry.

"The Japanese demand numbers help explain why OPEC is having such a hard time supporting prices," Adam Sieminski, Deutsche Bank's chief energy economist, in Washington told Bloomberg. "Weak demand and increasing OPEC spare capacity are contributing to weaker prices."

Crude oil for February delivery fell $2.44, or 5.8 percent, to $39.92 a barrel at the 2:30 p.m. close of floor trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Prices have fallen 73 percent from a record $147.27 on July 11, Bloomberg reported.

"OPEC may be determined to stabilize oil prices, but with such poor demand it's hard to see how any supply-driven initiatives can have a positive impact on prices," Addison Armstrong, director of market research for Tradition Energy in Stamford, Conn., told Bloomberg. 


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