Crude Oil Lower

Crude is slightly lower in early trade, after plunging 6% of its value yesterday, after a report showed that US manufacturing is contracting and fuel demand is heading south with it.

The US is the worlds single largest consumer of crude oil and any downturn in manufacturing will likely have implications for oil demand.

At 7.45am GMT December crude was $63.68/barrel, 23 cents down on last nights close. Futures fell nearly $4/barrel yesterday. Prices are now down around 33 percent from a year ago.

US fuel demand is currently running around 8-10 percent lower than a year ago according to recent data from the Energy Department.

Next year's oil price forecast was cut to $58 a barrel from $73, while the estimate for 2010 was reduced to $78 from $98 at Credit Suisse. The forecasts are for Brent crude.

OPEC, producer of more than 40 percent of the world's crude, continues to threaten production cuts to help bolster prices. As we know what OPEC says, and what OPEC does, are two entirely different things. Even so, what do cuts matter when demand is falling faster? The cartel is next due to meet on Dec. 17 in Algeria.