Oil falls towards $35 on gas deal

16:43, 19 January 2009
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The market also remained under...

Oil fell more than $1 towards $35 a barrel on Monday on signs of a resolution of a gas row between Russia and Ukraine and after a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas in Gaza eased supply concerns, according to Reuters.

The market also remained under pressure from expectations that the weakening global economy would erode oil demand. The International Energy Agency and other forecasters cut their 2009 demand forecasts last week.

"Right now the economy is dominating," said Harry Tchilinguirian, analyst at BNP Paribas. "The market is very volatile and the signs are that demand is weakening."

U.S. crude for February delivery, which expires on Tuesday, slid $1.21 to $35.30 a barrel by 1:50 p.m. British time. London Brent crude for March fell to a low of $45.11 before recovering to $45.46.

Only just over 1,800 lots were traded on the February U.S. crude contract. The March contract was much more active as more than 8,000 lots changed hands.

Russia and Ukraine were aiming to sign an agreement on Monday to restart gas flows to Europe through Ukraine after finally agreeing a price for 2009 supplies.

Also easing concern about energy supplies, Israeli forces began to pull out of the Gaza Strip following a tentative truce with Hamas after the three-week war, easing tension in a region which pumps about a third of the world`s oil.

Prices came under pressure on Friday after the IEA, an adviser to industrialised countries, joined the ranks of forecasters predicting a fall in world oil demand in 2009.

OPEC, the oil exporters` group, has cut production three times since September to try to stem falling prices. It might consider reducing output again, Algeria`s oil minister Chakib Khelil said on Saturday.

Oil has collapsed by more than $110 a barrel since reaching a record high of $147.27 a barrel in the summer as the global economic slowdown has eroded demand and consumer spending.

Still, some in the oil market think there is little room for prices to fall much further.

"It looks as if Brent will hold in the current $40-$50 range," said Christopher Bellew, a broker at Bache Commodities. "I do not anticipate new lows."


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