Oil prices stabilised on 14 December after heavy falls a day earlier on the back of poor data from the US, the world’s largest energy consumer.

The February contract for West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude was trading at $79.90 a barrel on 14 December, down from $82.60 a week before but up from the $77 low it hit on 13 December.

Prices fell on 13 January after the US’ Energy Information Administration released a report saying that stocks of crude oil rose by 3.7 million barrels to 331 million barrels during the week ended 8 January, prompted bywarmer than expected weather. Petrol stocks also rose, by 3.8 million barrels to 223.5 million barrels.

In Europe, the region’s benchmark Brent crude contract was also down week-on-week, at $78.40 a barrel. It had traded at $80.57 on 7 January.

One London-based energy analyst says that prices should move higher in the coming weeks because of harsh weather conditions in Europe and preliminary fourth quarter results announcements from major international companies.