Brent futures edged higher on Friday, holding above US $ 48 a barrel on positive technical price momentum, although few analysts expect a strong rebound anytime soon as global output continues to outweigh demand.
Analysts said, however, that crude markets may still be bottoming out as prices were receiving support around current levels.
“Our forecast seems to point towards a consolidation stage in the weeks to come… Therefore, we expect crude prices to trade range bound between US $ 44.75-US $ 50.69 for WTI March 2015 and US $ 46.4-52.89 for Brent March 2015,” Phillip Futures said in a note.
Benchmark Brent crude futures were trading at US $ 48.59 per barrel at 10:05 am, up 32 cents since their last settlement. US crude prices were trading 34 cents higher, at $ 46.59 a barrel.
Despite the slight gains in prices, oil opened up into a wobbly market after Switzerland jolted markets already roiled by plunging commodities prices by abandoning its currency cap on Thursday. The move triggered the euro’s biggest single-day drop against the Swiss franc in history and an 11-year low against the US dollar.
Investors took this as a sign that the European Central Bank (ECB) would launch large-scale bond buying next week, which points to further euro falls against the dollar.
“The potential dollar strength into 2015 may be another factor at play in pressuring oil prices lower. The weakness in the crude space is likely to keep sentiment jittery,” Singapore’s OCBC bank said on Friday.
Oil markets remain dominated by a supply glut – created by soaring US shale output and high production from Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) members and Russia – amid slowing demand.
Crude oil prices have been pulled lower by multiple factors, OCBC said, starting back in July 2014, when oversupply from major oil producers spooked the market.
“In contrast, demand stayed tame, with European and Indian demand trending in the contraction zone,” the Singapore-based financial services provider said.