Oil Prices Bounce

Oil Prices BounceOil Prices Bounce

Brent crude edged higher after a sharp decline on Friday but was on track for the biggest weekly loss in more than two months as swelling stocks weighed on the market.

Brent crude traded 40 cents higher at $44.46 per barrel and was on track for a more than 5% weekly loss, Reuters reported.

US crude was 5 cents higher at $42.80 a barrel. The benchmark closed almost 3 percent down on Thursday on a 4.2 million barrel rise in US crude inventories.

“The underlying sentiment is bearish,” PVM analyst Tamas Varga said. “I don’t see anything that could support prices rising in the long term.”

Some of the weakness could be down to technical factors, among them the expiry of the December Brent futures contract on Friday, which can reduce liquidity and exaggerate price movements.

Oil was caught in a commodities market drop on Thursday, with base metals also hit hard. The Thomson Reuters/Core Commodity CRB Index, a global benchmark for commodities, was near its lowest since 2002.

Crude markets have been dogged by oversupply, estimated between 0.7 million bpd and 2.5 million bpd being produced above demand, which has resulted in prices falling by almost two thirds since June 2014.

The glut is a result of high production by most major producers, including OPEC, Russia and North America.

On the demand side, an economic slowdown in Asia, led by the region’s two biggest economies -- China and Japan -- has led to concerns about slowing consumption, though it has held up so far.

There were also signs that traders expect more price falls, with a soaring number of options taken to sell crude if prices fall to $40 or even $25 per barrel.