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Oil prices extend falls; Goldman Sachs slashes forecasts

LONDON: Oil prices renewed their declines on Monday, dropping below $49 a barrel as Goldman Sachs slashed its short-term forecasts and Gulf producers showed no signs of cutting production.

Both Brent and U.S. crude are around their lowest since April 2009 and have fallen for seven straight weeks on a growing supply glut.

The February Brent contract was down $1.29 at $48.82 a barrel at 0417 ET. U.S. crude oil for February was down $1.12 at $47.24 per barrel.

Analysts at Goldman Sachs cut their three-month forecasts for Brent to $42 a barrel from $80 a barrel and for the U.S. West Texas Intermediate contract to $41 a barrel from $70 a barrel. The bank cut its 2015 Brent forecast to $50.40 a barrel from $83.75 and U.S. crude to $47.15 a barrel from $73.75.

Despite declining investments in U.S. shale oil, the main driver in the current supply glut, production will take longer to come down, Goldman said in a report.

“To keep all capital sidelined and curtail investment in shale until the market has rebalanced, we believe prices need to stay lower for longer,” the analysts said.

As OPEC’s November decision not to curtail production in the face of falling prices piles pressure on some group members, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro met Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Salman in Riyadh on Sunday as part of a diplomatic tour in the Gulf to discuss falling oil prices.

However, Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, has said it won’t support prices by cutting production and ignored calls from smaller OPEC members, including Venezuela, to react to falling oil prices at the cartel’s November meeting.

On Saturday Iran vowed to help Venezuela stem the oil price fall. (Reuters)

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