NEW YORK --- Light sweet crude for February delivery settled at $50.48 a barrel in New York futures trading Thursday, after hitting a 20-month low of $49.90 during intraday activity, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times. The price of crude this year has dropped 18 percent, helping to push fuel prices lower in most regions of the country. An unusually mild winter has limited demand for winter heating oil and boosted inventories, analysts say. Federal data released this week showed an increase of 6.8 million barrels in crude oil stockpiles last week. That's well above the forecasted 100,000-barrel rise. Gasoline stocks leaped 3.5 million barrels. In addition, the International Energy Agency, which advises 26 nations, cut its 2007 global oil demand forecast because of the mild winter in the U.S. and Europe.

Originally posted on Fleet Financials