Crude oil fell below $80 a barrel today due to an unexpected rise in distillate stocks despite the effects of a severe winter in the northern hemisphere, which caused a surge in demand.

For February delivery, US crude fell by $1.16 to $79.63 a barrel, while London Brent crude dropped by 79¢ to $78.51 a barrel, reports Reuters.

Oil prices are the lowest since 4 January 2010.

US distillate inventories increased by 3.6m barrels in the week ending 8 January compared with earlier projections of a 1.8m barrel fall, according to the American Petroleum Institute.