Barclays forecasts more bearish oil outlook

NEW YORK. — With oil prices rapidly sliding toward sub-$30 territory, investments banks are racing to cut their forecasts to reflect the dire start to 2016.

In a note late Monday, Barclays became the latest bank to slash its outlook, going especially bearish on commodities and offering a rather depressing prognosis for the future of oil markets.

“Recent price declines for major commodities are now greater than in any crisis of the past 30 years and speculative positioning much more negative than it was even in the depths of the financial crisis,” the bank’s analysts, led by head of commodities research Kevin Norrish, said in a note.

“That suggests that although the price outlook is weaker than it was previously, the road ahead could be a very bumpy one,” they said.

The bank now expects both Brent LCOG6, +0,76 percent and West Texas Intermediate crude oil CLG6, +0,67 percent to average $37 a barrel in 2016, down from a previous forecast of $60 and $56, respectively. Brent traded around $31,50 a barrel yesterday, while WTI crude cost around $31,30.

So why this sharp downgrade in the outlook? Start with what Barclays calls the “complete breakdown of OPEC cohesion” after the cartel in December abandoned its production targets. The OPEC issue was further exacerbated in early January by the tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Then there’s the US shale producers that have proved to be “resilient beyond expectations”, as they have become more efficient, sold non-core assets and started drilling the most profitable areas, Barclays said.

On top of that, there is the bleak outlook for the world economy, along with a stronger dollar that makes oil more expensive for holders of other currencies.

Morgan Stanley on Monday also described the green-back as hammering oil prices, arguing that scenarios with crude at $20 to $25 a barrel are possible. However, that’s not Morgan Stanley’s 2016 base forecast, as the bank expects crude to average $47,50 a barrel this year.

In fact, Barclays is by far the most pessimistic bank when it comes to the outlook for oil, as laid out in the table below. — Market Watch.

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