Oil prices crept higher today but still struggled near multi-year lows as analysts warned the weakness will continue past next year. 

The gains come ahead of a report later in the day on US crude inventories, with expectations of a further build-up in the already saturated market. 

A decision by the OPEC oil producers group during their meeting last week not to slash output levels has left the commodity wallowing, with the group deferring any action to their next meeting in June.

US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for delivery in January was trading 37 cents higher at $37.88 a barrel. 

Brent North Sea crude for January was up 36 cents at $40.62 a barrel, as dealers hunted for bargains after prices fell to their lowest in nearly seven years this week. 

Brent dropped briefly below $40 a barrel yesterday for the first time since February 2009.

Members of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries are currently producing an estimated 32 million barrels per day, above the group's prior 30 million target. 

OPEC, looking to maintain market share in the face of fierce competition from top non-OPEC producers such as Russia and the US, did not set a new production ceiling at Friday's meeting in Vienna. 

Dealers also have an eye on next week's Federal Reserve policy meeting, with expectations it will raise US interest rates. 

A hike would typically support the dollar, making oil - which is priced in the greenback - more expensive for those holding weaker currencies, hurting demand.