Crude oil for January delivery dipped to US$88.1 on the Nymex, while Brent crude dipped to US$92 on the ICE Futures exchange, despite a plunge in US crude supplies that suggested demand may be recovering. The Energy Information Administration reported that crude inventories fell 9.9 mln barrels last week, the largest drop since 2002. The more than expected recent tightening in market conditions is leading players to anticipate a steeper rise in oil prices over 2011. Traders will also be studying the latest figures for US housing starts and jobless claims for signs of strengthening economic recovery. Most global crude demand growth this year came from emerging economies, led by China. Chinese demand for commodities is expected to diminish in coming years as the economy shifts toward services.