Oil prices remained weak right up to the end of 2008 after the US Energy Department said that stocks of crude there increased by 500,000 barrels last week.
Analysts had predicted that they would fall by 1.5 million barrels.
Oil jumped as much as 12 percent earlier in the week after Israel launched its air offensive on Gaza but the effect did not last and the market focus is now back on the deteriorating economy.
Crude oil hit an all-time high of more than 147 dollars in July but prices have collapsed since then as the credit crisis pushed the industrialised world into recession drastically cutting demand for energy.
Industry experts do not see than changing. A dealer with a large US broker said “The fundamentals of this oil market are horrible. Demand is falling and there seems no reason to buy. There is still plenty of room to go lower.”