The latest forecast from the US government is for a fall in worldwide demand for oil this year and next as economic growth slows. That would be the first time consumption has contracted for two consecutive years since 1983. The prediction – from the US Energy Information Administration – is bad news for oil companies and producer countries which have gained from this year’s record high prices, but the EIA said it could benefit consumers by sending fuel prices lower.Oil prices jumped on signs that Saudi Arabia has slashed supplies to customers for January. It is widely expected the producers’ cartel OPEC will agreed to cut production in an effort to boost prices when it meets next week. And Russia – which is not an OPEC member but is one of the world’s largest oil exporters – is also signalling output cuts with details to be announced soon.