Global oil prices were little changed on Thursday, with better-than-expected U.S. jobs and other data helping the market hold steady after recovering from a four-day losing streak a day earlier.
But support for the market was likely to be short-lived as oil bears continue hunting a bottom for the second-biggest price rout in crude's history, traders said.
Some traders think oil prices could be at a crossroads after losing over half their value from June highs, and that could explain benchmark Brent crude's stalling at above $50 since Wednesday. Others think the market has just been handed a reprieve before moving another leg lower.
"I think there is selling fatigue and that's why you're seeing some short covering," said John Kilduff, partner at New York energy hedge fund Again Capital. "There are lots of folks out there still looking for a bottom. This thing is not over yet. Not by a long shot."
U.S. crude closed 14 cents higher, at $48.79 per barrel, after plumbing a 5-1/2-year low of $46.83 in the previous session.