LONDON (Reuters) – Oil held above $61 on Tuesday after rebounding from a six-month low as dealers focused on whether OPEC might trim output should prices fall further.
U.S. crude eased four cents to $61.41 a barrel by 0900 GMT, while London Brent slipped 12 cents at $60.68 a barrel.
Oil prices dropped to a new six-month low of $59.52 a barrel on Monday as BP Plc’s (BP.L) restoration of output at its Alaska’s Prudhoe Bay field added to a sense of healthy global supplies, and investors fretted over the pace of U.S. economic growth.
But they later rebounded on technical buying after prices fell below the psychologically important $60 level.
“The general sentiment is that if prices fall further, OPEC might decide to come in and cut its quota,” said Andrew Harrington, an industry analyst at ANZ.
“Given the language that some OPEC members are using, the market is interpreting that a price below $60 would be a trigger point for the group to act,” he added.
OPEC, which pumps more than third of the world’s oil, is concerned about a drop in oil prices but has no plans to call an emergency meeting ahead of its scheduled December 14 meeting in Nigeria, OPEC sources said on Monday.
OPEC has avoided setting a target oil price to defend, Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi, who steers the policy of the world’s biggest exporter, said last week that prices were “reasonable.”
Saudi Arabia’s Monetary Authority Vice Governor Muhammad Al-Jasser added on Tuesday that oil prices at $60 remained “very healthy.”
But Iran’s Oil Minister Kazem Vaziri-Hameneh has said he does not want to see the price for OPEC’s basket of crude grades drop below $60, which equates to U.S. crude at roughly $65.
Fears of a sharp slowdown in the world’s largest economy also eased following a smaller-than-expected decline in U.S. August home sales data.
U.S. home sales slipped 0.5 percent to an annual rate of 6.30 million units, the smallest in the last five months of declines, which economists read as the end of the slump for the sector.
Oil prices have tumbled around 20 percent over the past two months, the steepest fall since the Gulf War in 1991, on easing Middle East tensions, ample fuel stocks and an uneventful hurricane season.