BRIGHT ECONOMY NEWS Oil prices fell below $55 a barrel this morning after an extended rally as global stocks tumbled.

The benchmark Brent crude oil price hit a new intraday low of $55,637.70, the lowest since October 1.

It’s the lowest price in 10 days and the lowest in four months, according to Reuters data.

The previous low was $55 on December 7.

“The drop is pretty surprising given the recent volatility,” Brent crude futures contract trader Andrew O’Sullivan said.

A few hours later, the S&P 500 index fell 1.8 per cent, while the Nasdaq composite index fell 0.2 per cent.

Oil is expected to be the main driver of global economic activity this year, with growth forecasts for the world’s second-biggest economy rising to 1.6 per cent this year from 1.3 per cent in 2016.

In Brisbane, the market traded higher by more than $1 a barrel on the back of stronger global growth, which pushed up energy prices.

Australia’s dollar surged after the latest drop, rising against a basket of major currencies, with the Australian dollar trading up $1.19 to $US1.39.

Australian exports surged as imports fell, with Australian petrol and diesel rising 2 per cent to $1,719 a litre.

Brent crude oil futures fell $1 by $55 to $54.24 a barrel, the biggest drop in five days.

The S&am futures contract was down $3.80 to $56.89 a barrel.

GDP growth is expected at 1.5 per cent and 1.2 percentage points higher this year than the prior year, according the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Meanwhile, oil prices fell on concerns about a potential US$50-a-barrel spike in US crude oil production due to the Federal Reserve’s stimulus measures.

Traders are waiting for a response from the US Treasury before they can gauge the impact of the Fed’s latest stimulus measures, which could push crude prices higher.

At one point, Brent crude fell more than 8 per cent before peaking at $57.40 a barrel to $57 on Wednesday.

On Thursday, Brent settled lower by $56 to $53.57 a barrel and remained at $56 for much of the day.

Gold futures were slightly higher by $US30 to $2,965 an ounce.