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Oil Prices May Stabilize This Week: CNBC Poll

Oil prices may start stabilizing and possibly correct higher this week after dropping nearly 5 percent the week before, according to a CNBC poll of analysts.

Out of 12 analysts interviewed, five expected prices to hold steady this week, two expected a gain while the remaining five were looking for the market to extend last week's declines.

Oil "could easily hit $73 or below" this week, dragged down by weaker equities markets, poor U.S. bank earnings, a cooling off in the China's economy and rising fuel inventories, said Mike Sander of Sander Capital Advisors.

"The March contract for oil is approaching key support areas in the $73 - $75 range, if it breaks through that a fall to $68 should take place," Sander said.

Oil tumbled below $75 a barrel on Tuesday , approaching one-month lows, after higher reserve ratios for selected Chinese banks took effect, rekindling concern that tightening measures by the world's second-largest oil consumer would curb demand.

Also haunting markets, "continued unease" over Greece possibly defaulting on their debt.

"If this happens the dollar would easily go back into the $1.30 range against the Euro and a stronger dollar will put pressure on oil to pull back in price," he added.

Neutral Comments

Gavin Wendt, Senior Resource Analyst at Mine Life said he expects prices to remain steady this week and hold in range between $75 to $85 a barrel.

"Despite everything that's been thrown at the oil market over the past six months or so, prices have been relatively insulated from volatile movements, both on the downside and the upside...I don't see too much more downside for crude prices from current levels."

Markets in the coming weeks will also be looking closely at comments from oil industry heavyweights in the upcoming reporting season, he said.

Bullish comments

Some analysts took a positive stance as buying could be expected following last week's decline.

"I'm bullish - expecting some buying on weakness and a draw down in stocks to buoy prices," said Ben Westmore, an economist at National Australia Bank.

Westmore said he is not expecting China's tightening in monetary policy to have much of an effect.

"There is still a massive amount of stimulus in train in the Chinese economy and the increase in the repo rate and reserve requirements are moving policy to a position that is still highly expansionary (albeit slightly less so than previously)."

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