Oil Prices Dip On Gloomy Chinese, European Outlook

Big 5

Oil prices fell in early Asian trade on Monday, with markets expecting gloomy Chinese economic data to be published this week.

Chinese new home prices fell an average 4.3 percent year-on-year in 68 of the 70 major cities monitored. That was an appetizer to Tuesday’s report on gross domestic product which is expected to show China’s annual growth slowed to 7.2 percent in the last quarter, meaning full-year growth would undershoot Beijing’s 7.5-percent target and would be the weakest in 24 years.

In Europe, the main event of the week will be Thursday’s meeting of the European Central Bank (ECB), which is considered almost certain to see the launch of a government bond-buying campaign, pointing to further euro falls against the dollar as well as to downward pressure on oil prices.

“Commodity markets to be driven by currency markets and expectations of ECB quantitative easing this week,” ANZ bank said in a note on Monday.

Benchmark Brent crude futures were trading at $49.75 per barrel at 0225 GMT, down 42 cents since their last settlement. U.S. crude was trading down 37 cents at $48.32 a barrel.

Oil prices have dropped by more than half since last June as production around the world has soared while demand slows. Although the International Energy Agency (IEA) said that a reversal in trend was possible this year, it added that prices may fall further before the market begins to rise again.

Analysts said that prices would likely rise away from levels below $50 per barrel, but many noted that the longer-term outlook was for oil prices to remain at lower levels than in recent years.

“We do not subscribe to the theory of US$20/bbl (barrel) oil. The price may go down to the US$30/bbl level for a short while, but it will bounce back,” research firm Facts Global Energy (FGE) said in its January note to clients.

“We will be in the US$60-80/bbl price range till end of the decade,” it added.

U.S. markets will be shut on Monday for a public holiday.

Source : Reuters