Crude oil prices eased in thin trade on Monday as a meeting between Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries producers, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, showed little indication that steps would be taken to boost prices.
Global benchmark Brent futures LCOc1 were down 8 cents at $34.98, while US crude futures CLc1 fell by 23 cents to $30.66.
Both contracts firmed slightly earlier in the session on Monday in see-saw trade on low volumes as many Asian markets were on holiday for the Lunar New Year.
Saudi Arabia’s Oil Minister, Ali al-Naimi, discussed cooperation between members of OPEC and other oil producers to stabilise the global oil market on Sunday, but there was no sign any agreement had been reached.
“It was a successful meeting and (conducted) in a positive atmosphere,” Naimi was quoted as saying.
Venezuela’s Oil Minister, Eulogio Del Pino, who is on a tour of oil producers to lobby for action to prop up prices, said his meeting with Naimi was “productive”.
“The picture is neither clear nor harmonious,” PVM Oil Associates analyst, David Hufton, said in a note on Monday.
Hufton warned: “The market is likely to remain highly volatile and dangerous.
“Unless there is some pretty bullish news in the next few days, the contracts are likely to erode value and head south.”
The market is also eyeing US Federal Reserve Chair, Janet Yellen’s testimony to lawmakers on Wednesday along with US crude inventory data from the Energy Information Administration on the same day.
“We are on hold, waiting for that with a nervous tone,” said Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets in Sydney.
The International Energy Agency and OPEC are also due to release their monthly reports on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively.