U.S. Crude Retreats From $50 on Oversupply Concerns

Markets Reuters

Oil futures fell below $49 on Friday, moving further away from a seven-month high hit a day earlier, with analysts predicting range-bound markets for the next few months as supply outages slowly help to clear a glut of crude.

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Prices also came under pressure from a strong U.S. dollar, buoyed by generally positive U.S. economic data amid growing expectations of a near-term increase in interest rates.

Brent fell 1.3 percent, or 64 cents, to $48.95 a barrel by 1031 GMT, retreating from the previous session's $50.51 peak, its highest since early November.

U.S. crude dropped 45 cents to $49.03 a barrel after touching $50.21 on Thursday, its highest since early October.

Oil pushed through $50 for the first time in about seven months on Thursday after supply disruptions from Canadian wildfires and militant attacks in Nigeria helped cut global daily output by 4 million barrels.

"Most of these outages are unlikely to last. The return of disrupted supply and OPEC's increasing of production lay the foundation for a wider market surplus, and for prices to fall back below $40 in the short run," UBS analyst Giovanni Staunovo said in a note.

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"A combination of contracting non-OPEC production and rising demand in emerging markets will result in a balanced oil market in 2017," he said, adding that he expected Brent to trade at around $55 a barrel in 12 months.

Oil fell to $27 in January from as high as $115 in mid-2014, leading to a halt in the growth of U.S. oil production.

But with prices recovering to around $50, many shale producers will reactivate their investments, said Tony Nunan, oil risk manager at Tokyo's Mitsubishi Corp.

"Shale's total production costs are around $48-$50 a barrel - there will be producers who make money at $50," Nunan said.

Investors were also awaiting the appearance of U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen at an event later on Friday for further indications on when the Fed could raise interest rates.

The dollar has risen more than 2 percent against a basket of currencies so far in May.. A meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries on June 2 may also give further direction to oil markets.

"Most people feel the meeting will be neutral or bad," Nunan said, with a neutral outcome leading to no change in oil output, while moves by producers such as Saudi Arabia to boost production would be bad.

(Editing by Dale Hudson and David Clarke)