Oil falls with little suggesting rise in demand

The promise of billions of federal stimulus dollars did little to sway energy markets this week, with pessimistic investors focused on dour economic news that signaled the world's appetite for energy will shrink further still. Oil prices fell all but one day of the short trading week, including Friday, as economists voiced growing concerns about deflation. Benchmark crude for March delivery fell 54 cents to settle at $39.97, on the New York Mercantile Exchange. That contract expired Friday and there was a very low volume in trades. Light, sweet crude for April delivery fell 15 cents to $40.03 a barrel. "People are scared," said Phil Flynn, an analyst at Alaron Trading Corp., who noted that gold prices rose above $1,000 an ounce as investors looked for a safe place to put their money.