Crude futures retreated Tuesday despite the ongoing Middle East tension as energy demand shrank in the United States.
U.S. retail gasoline demand for the week ending Dec. 26 dropped3.8 percent from the same week a year ago, according to a MasterCard Spending Pulse report.
Meanwhile, U.S. consumer confidence fell to a record low in December as the worst job market in 16 years hammered sentiment, the Conference Board, an economic research group said.
Light, sweet crude was down 99 cents to settle at 39.03 U.S. dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange while London Brent settled down 40 cents at 40.15 dollars.
(Xinhua News Agency December 31, 2008)