Crude oil prices slumped to fresh five-and-a-half-year lows amid continuing worries about a surplus of global supplies and weak demand.
US benchmark crude slid as low as US$51.40 a barrel on Monday, its lowest level since May 2009, before recovering slightly, Reuters reported.
February Brent crude dropped as low as US$55.36 a barrel, also its weakest since May 2009, it said.
Lackluster economic data from the US last Friday have heightened worries about the state of the global economy and the strength of oil demand, the report noted.
OPEC’s decision in November to maintain output had earlier accelerated oil’s losses, while record-high Russian production and the highest Iraqi exports since 1980 added to the concerns about oversupply.
Ample supply and slowing demand could push Brent into a US$50-55 range during this quarter, a trader was quoted as saying.
A weak euro may also have contributed to further oil losses as it reduces the purchasing power of euro holders for dollar-denominated oil.
The European common currency hit a nearly nine-year low against the dollar on Monday as investors bet on quantitative easing by the European Central Bank (ECB).
The euro fell to as low as US$1.18605, its weakest level since March 2006, having slipped below an important support at US$1.20, the report said.
In an interview with a German financial daily, ECB President Mario Draghi said late last week that the risk of the central bank not fulfilling its mandate of preserving price stability was higher now than half a year ago.
The comments bolstered expectations that the ECB is ready to adopt quantitative easing, dragging the euro lower.
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