World oil prices retreated in Asian trade today after topping a two-month high above USD 49 overnight on concerns over weak global energy demand amid the economic downturn, analysts said.
New York’s main futures contract, light sweet crude for delivery in April, fell 65 cents to USD 48.51 a barrel in morning trade.
It had jumped USD 1.81 in New York trade yesterday to close at USD 49.16 after hitting 49.82, its highest level since January 6.
Brent North Sea crude for May delivery was down 47 cents to USD 47.77. The April contract expired Monday at USD 43.98.
“Demand is still the key. Yet we still have to see the demand for oil and natural gas increase before we get too excited about a change in trend,” said Phil Flynn of Alaron Trading in the United States.
“Oil demand in the US is weak and we need to see that change... If oil closes above USD 50 a barrel we may need to start getting a bit bullish.”
The market was also waiting for the release later today of the weekly US energy inventories report, which is closely watched because the United States is the world’s biggest oil consumer.