Brent April 2016 futures showed a similar decline, falling by almost five percent from a previous close of $35.99 per barrel to $34.21 per barrel by 17:30 GMT. WTI March 2016 futures were down over six percent, falling from a close of $33.62 per barrel to less than $32 per barrel by 17:30 GMT.
OPEC's failure to announce a meeting on the issue of stemming plunging prices and curbing production has put downward pressure on oil prices. Thursday's announcement by Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak on Russia's readiness to take part in an OPEC meeting together with other non-cartel countries has not been backed up by OPEC, while Saudi Arabia rejected allegations of an agreement among oil producing countries to cut production by 5 percent.
China's economy has also undermined the rally, with its Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI), which measures private sector company variables such as output, new orders, prices and employment, sliding from 49.7 in December to 49.4 in January. The index has now reached its lowest point since August 2012. Earlier January, China reported its 2015 GDP increase to be the lowest in over 20 years.