Crude oil traded near $77 a barrel in New York and is poised for further decline on signs fuel demand is slowing in the US.

Oil fell 3% yesterday to a four-week low after a US Energy Department report showed crude inventories rose a more-than-expected 1.76 million barrels last week and US refinery operating rates fell to the lowest in more than a year, reports Bloomberg.

Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News forecast a one-million-barrel gain.

“There is a lot of uncertainty as to what we can expect with the rate of recovery in Western oil demand, particularly the US,” said research analyst at CWA Global Markets Pty in Sydney Toby Hassall.

Crude oil for December delivery traded at $77.04 a barrel, up 10¢, in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange at 11.14am in Sydney.

US refineries operated at 79.9% of capacity, down 0.7 percentage points from the previous week, the report showed. It was the slowest pace since September 2008, when units were shut because of hurricanes Gustav and Ike, reports Bloomberg.