Volatility remained the watchword in the oil markets as the ICE Brent contract registered a seventh consecutive monthly fall in January, slumping to a low of United States Dollars (USD) 46.40/barrel, before rallying to a 5-week high in early February, fetching US$60.08/b. The NYMEX WTI contract tracked a similar path, hitting a low of US$43.58/b – before changing hands at US$54.24/b in the first week of February.
Oil fundamentals, and the long-term health of the industry, remained hot topics throughout January and early February. Significant builds in US crude oil stocks were seemingly offset by a sharp fall in the numbers of US rigs, and cuts to capital expenditure among major oil players, raising the possibility of non-OPEC supplies falling in the medium- to long-term. For now, oil benchmarks continue to sit firm within the US$40-65/b range.