Gas prices drift to a 58-month low; oil may continue price drop

SpendingPulse is a division of MasterCard Advisors that tracks total sales paid for by credit card, checks and cash.

Crude has given up 70% of its value since July, and this month alone it has fallen by more than $17 per barrel, a 30% decline.

Tom Kloza said he'll know that crude prices are poised for a sustained rebound when global demand matches last year's levels for several weeks in a row.

"Before you turn the corner, you need to get to the corner," Kloza said. "And right now we're seeing gasoline demand running about 3 to 5% behind year-ago levels.

Investors eyed more evidence that plummeting consumer demand from the U.S. and Europe is undermining growth in export-dependent Asia, as production at major Japanese manufacturers fell by its largest margin ever in November.

Japanese industrial production fell 8.1% in November from a month earlier, the largest drop since the government began measuring such data in 1953, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said Friday.

The decline followed a 3.1% drop in October, and the government expects another 8% plunge in December.

"These are pretty ugly figures that show the recession deepened in Japan," said Christoffer Moltke-Leth, head of sales trading for Saxo Capital Markets in Singapore. "I don't see any catalyst to bring crude higher. We'll likely test $30."

Many companies will likely report dismal earnings for the fourth quarter and may use the lowered expectations to include massive write-downs or one-time charges, Moltke-Leth said.

"I think a lot of CEOs want to put everything bad into the fourth quarter because the market expects it to be bad so why not put everything you can in there," he said. "There's going to be a lot of bad corporate news during the next few weeks, and that's going to reinforce the demand destruction theme for crude."

In other Nymex trading, gasoline futures rose 5.17 cents to settle at 88.4 cents a gallon. Heating oil gained 4.67 cents to settle at $1.245 a gallon while natural gas for January delivery fell 8.4 cents to settle at $5.826 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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