Crude Oil March Outlook
Crude oil rises on improving demand outlook and supply disruptions.Reuters

Crude oil futures bounced back on 27 February, but witnessed mixed trade for the week in the wake of improving demand outlook and supply disruptions.

Brent April contract finished $2.53 or 4.2% higher at $62.58 a barrel on Friday.

The European benchmark gained 3.9% for the week and 18.1% for the month, its biggest monthly gain since May 2009.

US April contract finished $1.59 or 3.3% higher at $49.76 a barrel on Friday.

WTI lost 2.1% for the week but gained 3.2% for the month.

Baker Hughes said the number of US rigs actively drilling for oil and natural gas as of 27 February fell by 43 to 1,267.

Earlier, Naeem Aslam, chief market analyst at AvaTrade, told MarketWatch: "Bears are way out of breath to punish the oil price further, as it was clearly seen when the crude inventory data was released earlier this week."

Aslam added that US consumer sentiment data was "very bullish, which means that consumers are willing to spend more — which translates in more energy demand" in the world's leading oil consumer.

At the same time, "we are seeing sign of growth in the Eurozone, which will also help to boost the demand for crude."

March outlook

Commerzbank Corporates & Markets said in a note earlier: "Over the course of February, the price of Brent oil has recovered to levels above $60 per barrel, with the US benchmark WTI trading at a high discount, at $50, owing to record-high US crude oil stocks. In early March, prices on both sides of the Atlantic are likely to trend sideways initially.

"While in most regions of the world, current economic indicators should turn out a bit more positive than in the previous month, they are unlikely to raise hopes of a considerable revival in oil demand. The alleged further decline of US oil rigs is unlikely to push prices further up either.

"For one, the downtrend in drilling activities has lost momentum on the back of the latest oil price recovery and, for another, US production is still showing no signs of cooling.

"Most notably, however, the ongoing increase in US crude oil stocks is likely to choke off any further price recovery. We are even convinced that the massive over-supply will send prices on the oil market lower yet."

US supplies

The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) on 25 February reported an 8.4 million-barrel increase in crude supplies for the week ended 20 February. Analysts were expecting a rise of less than half of that.

Brent's marked gains this month have been fuelled by production and export outages in Libya and Iraq in recent weeks.

Brent has also been buoyed by Statoil, which shut its Statfjord C platform in the North Sea after discovering cracks in the flare tower.