Oil falls 60% in ’08

Oil slid below $37 a barrel on Wednesday, heading for a fall of 60% in 2008 as the global economic slowdown bit deep into energy demand.

Crude oil hit an all-time high of more than $147 in July but prices have collapsed in the last six months as the credit crisis has pushed the industrialized world into recession. Dismal data from the United States on Tuesday added to pessimism that oil demand will suffer further in 2009, countering any support from Middle East tensions and hopes for another Saudi output cut. Analysts forecast an average of $49 a barrel for U.S. crude in the first quarter, and an average of $58.48 for next year, down $14 from their previous forecasts, the latest Reuters poll showed.U.S. crude oil futures for February dropped to a low of $36.94 per barrel, down $2.09, before recovering slightly. By 6:30 ET, the contract was at $37.53, down $150.

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