Oil prices rebounded Friday in what some market analysts believed was only a brief pause for steadily declining crude prices.
Awful holiday retail sales, job uncertainty and shrinking global trade all suggest that demand for energy from both businesses and consumers will continue to fall into next year.
“By Tuesday or Wednesday, we could easily see crude oil roughly $3 below what it is right now,” said Jim Ritterbusch, president of energy consultancy Ritterbusch and Associates.
New evidence that OPEC members had cut production and a weaker dollar boosted crude prices Friday in light trading.
Light, sweet crude for February delivery rose $1.57 to $36.92 a barrel in trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract on Wednesday fell $3.63 to settle at $35.35. Trading was closed Thursday for Christmas.
In London, February Brent crude rose $1.37 to $37.98 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.
Tumbling crude prices have led to enormous declines in the price of retail gasoline.
At the pump, retail gas prices fell six-tenths of a penny overnight to a new national average of $1.642 a gallon Friday, well below the year-ago average of $2.981 a gallon, according to AAA and the Oil Price Information Service.