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Crude oil prices opened slightly higher on Monday with the tailwind from a weaker dollar aiding sentiment and ongoing supply cuts led by OPEC and Russia, although analysts said soaring North American output would dent the market outlook for later in the year.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $66.29 a barrel at 0659 GMT, up 15 cents, or 0.2 percent, from their last settlement. Brent crude futures held above $70 per barrel, dipping 8 cents to $70.44 a barrel.
Last week, oil prices ended Friday’s session close to their strongest level since late 2014, amid ongoing optimism that OPEC-led output cuts would continue to drain the market of excess supplies.
Oil has been propped up by supply restraint led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and Russia. The cuts in supplies have coincided with strong demand on the back of healthy global economic growth.
U.S. bank JP Morgan said it had increased its 2018 average price forecast by $10 per barrel to $70 per barrel for Brent and by $10.70 per barrel for WTI to $65.63.
“We expect Brent to touch close to $78 per barrel towards end of Q1 2018 or early Q2 2018,” it added.
There are also signs that Canadian shale oil production, already at 335,000 bpd, could start to rise as investment in the sector picks up. Canada’s overall crude production currently stands at 4.2 million bpd.
JP Morgan said it expected prices to fall towards the end of the year as markets become “flush with oil from shale and other unconventional oils.”
On the technical charts, WTI is trading sideways, near the upper band of the Bollinger bands and above all the moving averages (9day, 20 day, 50 day, 100 day and 200 day). The MACD has made a positive crossover above the signal line. The RSI is at 75.99.
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