oil
Oil futures headed sideways, while gold retreated as the dollar strengthened.iStock

Oil futures were marginally up on Tuesday (7 March) but stayed within recent range, as the chief executive officers of BP and ConocoPhillips said the oil industry was mentally prepared for a $50-60 oil price.

At 6:18pm GMT, the Brent futures contract for May delivery was up a mere 0.03% or 2 cents at $56.02 per barrel, while the West Texas Intermediate (WTI) was up 0.15% or 8 cents at $53.28 per barrel, as both benchmark appear stuck in the lower-to-mid $50 levels in the absence of obvious drivers.

Speaking at CERAWeek, a major industry event in Houston, Texas organised by IHS Markit, Bob Dudley, chief executive officer of BP, said: "We'll plan the next five years with a $55-60 oil price. As the International Energy Agency warned on Monday, the industry is in danger of falling into the trap of investment delays in a low price environment and the market imbalance that could create.

"By some estimates, up to $2trn in investment delays could be on the horizon. That's not BP, we will continue to invest within our price bracket."

Ryan Lance, chief executive officer of ConocoPhillips, said: "You have to make allowance for the lower end of the oil industry cycle. For, us we're gearing up for a $50 oil price using Brent as a benchmark."

Earlier in the session, speaking at the same IHS event, Saudi energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih said the Opec and non-Opec production cut agreement for the first six month of 2017 may have been historic but the market should not get ahead of itself and start conjecturing that the cuts might be extended.

"Don't believe in wishful thinking that Opec would underwrite the investment of others by perennially supporting the market. Saudi Arabia has cut production by more than what we promised [in December 2016], but we will not bear the burden of free riders."

Away from the oil market, precious metals took a dive as the dollar strengthened against a basket of global currencies. At 6:42pm GMT, the Comex gold futures contract for April delivery was down 0.74% or $9.10 at $1,216.40 an ounce, while spot gold was down 0.73% or $8.96 at $1,216.33 an ounce.

Fawad Razaqzada, market analyst at Forex.com, said thanks to a generally stronger dollar amid heightened expectations of a faster tightening cycle from the US Federal Reserve, market participants have reduced holdings in dollar-denominated precious metals.

"Gold was finding no support from a pause in the stock market rally either. The yellow metal is yet to show any signs of support and for now at least the path of least resistance remains to the downside. Thus, it appears likely that the metal may drop to test the $1,200 level again in the coming days, provided that intermediate support at $1,217/20 area gives way."

Elsewhere, Comex silver fell 1.33% or 24 cents to $17.54 an ounce, while spot platinum fell 1.87% or $18.28 to $960.25 an ounce.