Extremely volatile week has seen oil trade in a wide 19 per cent range
The oil price has been on a bumpy road in the past week to say the least, even if it has been overall much more positive than the slump that persisted throughout January.
"A string of bullish indicators like a slump in the dollar and potential talks on output cuts clashed with bearish reports of record US crude inventories, higher output and a slowing global economy," says CNBC, explaining the recent fluctuations. The US crude oil price has traded in a wide 19 per cent range during the week and seen one-day swings of as much as 11 per cent.
After hitting a near 13-year low of $27 a barrel at the end of last month, international benchmark Brent crude has been as much as a third higher in February already, at close to $36. However, since rumours of coordinated deal talks have petered out in the past couple of sessions, its rally has waned and it was a little above $34 overnight.
Some, including analysts at Citi, have speculated the improved, if unstable picture this month points to a floor being established and that oil will not dip back below $30. But this is not the first time a bottom of the slump has been called – and yesterday, Morgan Stanley revised its own predictions lower to show the oil price going back below this threshold by the end of 2016.
Market Watch notes the bank reckons oil will remain rooted at around $30-$31 a barrel for the first three quarters of the year as a global glut continues, before nudging lower to average $29 in both the final quarter of this year and the first three months of 2017. It is not predicting a return to a modest – and barely break-even, in many cases - $50 a barrel until the final months of next year.
Even oil major Shell is forecasting similar short-term weakness. Speaking as the company reported an 80 per cent fall in four-quarter profits, its chief executive, Ben van Beurden, told The Times he is "sure" prices could yet go lower and that the market will rally from lows in the $30s "later this year, maybe early next year".