Oil Gets Cheaper and Cheaper

2014-12-23T182321Z_1198966375_GM1EACO06KG01_RTRMADP_3_MARKETS-OIL
The price sign outside Costco in Westminster, Colorado. Rick Wilking/Reuters

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Crude oil prices on tumbled Monday, with global grades settling down more than $1 a barrel after an early rally fizzled and prices fell to their lowest levels since May 2009.

News of further damage Libya's oil infrastructure prompted the early rally that was quickly erased as pervasive fears of global oversupply trumped concerns about output curtailment from the OPEC producer.

Phil Flynn of Price Futures Group said the rally may have triggered sell stops. Then once the Brent dropped below $54, a previous low, more stops may have been triggered.

"It just shows you that the market is very heavy," Flynn said.

Global benchmark Brent crude settled down $1.57 at $57.88. U.S. crude settled down $1.12 at $53.61 a barrel, following Brent downward.

The rally followed by the steep drop showed the market's fears about oversupply are not going away, said Gene McGillian, senior analyst at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut. "Every time the market tries to pick itself up, it's just another wave of selling," he said.

Oil tanks at Es Sider in Libya have been on fire for days after a rocket hit one of them, officials said.

The OPEC member nation is producing 128,000 barrels a day, an official said, down from the 1.6 million it produced prior to Muammar Gaddafi's ouster in 2011.

The market may test technical support at $50 a barrel, said Brian LaRose, a technical analyst at United-ICAP.

Oil prices this year are on track for the biggest decline since 2008 and the second-biggest annual fall since futures started trading in the 1980s.