Oil prices turn soft, drop below $47

Agence France Presse

Singapore, January 31:

Oil prices fell below $47 a barrel in Asian trade today after OPEC decided to keep production steady and the landmark elections in Iraq over the weekend went off more smoothly than expected, with no attacks on oil facilities, dealers said.

At 11:50 am, the March contract for light sweet crude on the New York Mercantile Exchange was down 55 cents to $46.63 from $47.18 in New York on Friday.

“Certainly prices have turned soft and going forward in the short term we can certainly expect prices to be softening further,” said Victor Shum, an analyst at energy consulting firm Purvin and Gertz. “No oil export infrastructure was attacked during the election day so oil output from Iraq continues ... OPEC also announced they would continue to monitor the markets and take action if necessary so that is a signal to the market they are willing to step in to defend prices.”

During a meeting yesterday in Vienna, OPEC maintained “currently agreed production levels” of 27 million barrels per day.