Stability in the oil market dissipated on Thursday (27 April), with crude futures slumping into negative territory yet again, as the market's focus returned to rising US shale production.

At 5:47pm BST, the Brent front-month futures contract was down 1.58% or 82 cents to $51.01 per barrel, while the West Texas Intermediate (WTI) was down 1.89% or 94 cents $48.68 per barrel, sliding further away from the psychologically important $50 level.

Benchmarks got brief respite overnight, as the US Energy Information Administration said the country's crude stocks dropped 3.6 million barrels last week, more than double what was expected.

Yet over the weekend, oilfield services company Baker Hughes reported yet another double-digit rise in the number of US oil and gas rigs, up 10 week-over-week and 426 on the same week last year to 857, indicative of an uptick in American output.

FXTM research analyst Lukman Otunuga said investors are coming to the realisation that there is still a global oil market glut, despite the efforts led by Opec and Russia to stabilise the saturated markets.

"The growing threat of US shale's rapid resurgence destabilising the Opec production cut deal and potentially resulting in more oil in the already bloated market may leave WTI vulnerable to further losses."

Away from the oil market, precious metals were largely on a negative patch, although gold futures displayed some resilience in early US trading. At 6.02pm BST, the Comex gold futures contract for the June delivery was up 0.25% or $3.20 at $1,267.40 an ounce, but spot gold was trading at $1,265.18 an ounce, down 0.32% or $4.04.

Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at Oanda, said: "From a technical perspective, gold still appears to be setting itself up for a meaningful correction lower with nearby support at $1,254, the 200-day moving average."

Elsewhere, Comex silver was down 0.35% or 6 cents at $17.37 an ounce, while spot platinum was 0.42% or $3.97 lower at $946.73 an ounce.