Page last updated at 20:59 GMT, Friday, 27 March 2009

Price of oil drops as rally ends

Oil well in Bahrain
Oil prices have fallen back after recent gains

The price of oil has fallen by almost $2 after several days of gains following more bad economic news that dragged global stock markets lower.

The price of US light crude fell by $1.95, or 3.6%, to $52.39 a barrel. London Brent oil fell $1.57 to $51.89.

On Thursday, prices hit their highest level of the year as economic optimism led to hope of increased demand.

But bad economic data from Japan and the US sent Wall Street lower and helped put an end to the recent rally.

'Depressing data'

Recent price hikes have led some analysts to call the start of a bull run in oil prices.

But "depressing economic data have put a halt to the recent rally", said Christopher Bellew at Bache Commodities.

"People are getting way ahead of the game," added Michael Lynch at Strategic Energy & Economic Research.

Data showed that retail sales in Japan saw their biggest fall in seven years in February, while growth in US consumer spending in the month slowed compared with January.

South Korea and Vietnam also reported weak economic data, providing more evidence that the global slowdown is hitting Asia's economies.

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