Crude oil slid more than 6 percent to close below 44 U.S. dollars a barrel Thursday as the deepening recession exacerbated demand concerns.
Light, sweet crude for January delivery tumbled 3.12 dollars to settle at 43.67 dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, which is the lowest level since January 2005.
The oil market remains bearish as negative economic reports keep rolling out, adding to the worries over slumping demand. The U.S. Labor Department reported that the jobless benefit claims reached 4.09 million last week, the highest level since December 1982. Meanwhile, the U.S. factory orders dropped 5.1 percent in October, the largest decline since July 2000.
In Europe, official figures showed the euro zone plunged into a recession in the third quarter of this year. Even the rate cuts by European central banks Thursday helped little to lift the market sentiment.
Crude oil has shed 70 percent from its record high of 147.27 dollars a barrel reached in mid-July. Merrill Lynch & Co. predicted Thursday that the price may dip below 25 dollars a barrel if the recession continues to spread.
In London, Brent crude for January delivery fell 3.16 dollars to settle at 42.28 dollars a barrel on the ICE Futures Exchange.
(Xinhua News Agency December 5, 2008)