Oil prices continue to fall

<p>Oil price fell for the second day in a row on Thursday.</p>

Oil prices continued to slide on Thursday (February 19th) as countries build their inventories.

The US government reported a record high in crude inventories which provided slight stimulus for prices but not enough to halt the slide. US commercial crude oil inventories increased by 7.7 million barrels to a record 425.6 million barrels, the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) confirmed. It represented the sixth straight week which levels were at a seasonal record peak, Reuters reports.

However, it did bode well when it came to prices. Brent crude oil stood at $60.21 (£39.18) a barrel, falling from Tuesday's two-month high of $63, an improvement on the day's low of $57.80. US crude oil did not perform much better and finished the session down 98 cents at $51.16, at points it had fallen by over $2.

Analysts believe that prices could be boosted by a fall in the US oil rig count. As inventories build, data from industry firm Baker Hughes noted that the number of US rigs drilling for oil had a hit three-year low.

Speaking to the news agency, Carsten Fritsch, oil analyst at Commerzbank in Frankfurt, said: "Tomorrow, we could see a recovery in expectation of another sharp drop in the rig count. The focus is again back on the oversupply. The big question is for how long?"

Impact across the world

The falling oil prices have had an effect right across the globe. Airline Air France-KLM noted that it had benefited from the drop in the cost of fuel, but was offset by other costs. British Gas owner Centrica recently announced a 35 per cent drop in full-year operating profits, partly down to the tumbling oil prices.

As a result the company has had to scale back investment plans and revise its dividend for shareholders.

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