WASHINGTON -- Oil prices fell for the fourth straight trading session yesterday, settling at their lowest level in more than a month amid mild US weather that has depressed demand for home-heating fuels.
Natural gas futures have fallen even harder in recent days for the same reason, settling at their lowest level in more than 12 weeks .
Light sweet crude for February delivery declined 76 cents to settle at $60.34 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, where natural gas futures declined 27.5 cents to settle at $5.838 per 1,000 cubic feet.
The last time natural gas futures settled below $6 was Oct. 13, at $5.66.
The last time crude oil futures settled below $61 was Nov. 28, at $60.99.
In London, Brent crude futures fell 58 cents to settle at $60.52 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.
Analysts expect the mild weather to keep energy prices under downward pressure for another couple of weeks.
"The way it looks now, this may continue to be a feature through at least mid-January," said Citigroup's Tim Evans.
Prices slid last week as brokers weighed slower economic growth and expectations of a mild winter against OPEC's determination to tighten worldwide supplies.
The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries said this month it plans to reduce output by an additional 500,000 barrels a day beginning in February. That comes on top of a previously disclosed cut of 1.2 million barrels per day.
This week, traders are looking ahead to the weekly inventory report from the US Energy Information Administration. According to a survey by Dow Jones, crude oil stocks are expected to decline, while distillate and gasoline stocks should rise. The report will be issued today .
UN sanctions against Iran that were approved over the weekend could also raise concerns about supply in 2007, though traders so far appear to have shrugged off the continuing dispute over Tehran's nuclear ambitions.
Iran has vowed to continue uranium enrichment despite the UN economic sanctions.
In other Nymex trading, heating oil futures fell 1.45 cents to settle at $1.6088 a gallon .