Page last updated at 00:07 GMT, Saturday, 22 November 2008

Oil prices seen steady below $50

Oil well, Illinois
Oil is far below the record of $147 a barrel reached in July.

Oil prices steadied on Friday after hitting their lowest level in three-and-a-half years.

US sweet crude climbed 51 cents to $49.93 a barrel after hitting a low of $48.25. London Brent crude gained $1.11 to settle at $49.19 a barrel.

The last time prices were below $50 was in May 2005. Fears are growing that a recession will hurt demand for fuel.

Falling oil prices has led to speculation that oil cartel Opec could cut output at a meeting next week.

Members of Opec are to meet on November 29, after opting to cut output by 1.5 million barrels per day in October.

Fears are growing that a global recession could dampen demand for oil. On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve said it expected the US economy to shrink in the first half of next year, adding to fears over lower demand for fuel.

Figures from the Energy Information Administration released on Wednesday showed US stocks of crude oil increased by 1.6 million barrels last week - twice as much as expected.

Historic oil price

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