With more supply hitting the market, Wall Street is getting more bearish on the outlook for oil prices and some strategists see the market many months away from finding a floor.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries strategy of standing back and letting the market determine price has helped drive oil down further and faster than many analysts had expected. Analysts see oil prices weakening further through the second quarter before leveling off and rising in the fourth quarter.
Saudi Arabia Monday cut U.S. and European prices for oil for February delivery, appearing to ratchet up the price war that has pitted OPEC against U.S. shale producers. Saudi Arabia trimmed its official price for light oils by $0.60 per barrel in the U.S.
Citigroup on Monday shaved its forecast to an average Brent price of $63 per barrel this year, from a previous forecast for $80. The analysts said the market should "sort itself out by the end of 2015" and that Brent should trade within a range of $55 to $70, and then average $70 a barrel in 2016.
The U.S. is awash in oil, with record levels of production meeting a rising tide of imports. West Texas Intermediate futures for February Monday temporarily fell below $50 per barrel, a key psychological level and downside target of some analysts.
"Now there are signs that Saudi Arabia might be increasing its market share on the U.S. Gulf Coast once again, adding further to price pressures in the U.S. market, with direct ripple effects in global markets in Q1," wrote the Citigroup strategists.