[SINGAPORE] Oil prices fell in Asia Monday as dealers await fresh leads from top crude consumer the United States, while analysts warned there were likely still further losses losses to come.
West Texas Intermediate, the US benchmark, eased 93 cents to US$51.76 while Brent crude for February fell 75 cents to US$55.67 in morning trade.
Singapore's United Overseas Bank said in a commentary a key US employment report on Friday and the release of the latest meeting minutes from the US Federal Reserve on Wednesday "will dominate the market's attention" this week.
Investors will pore over both releases for fresh clues on when the US central bank will raise interest rates, the Singapore lender said.
Daniel Ang, investment analyst at Phillip Futures in Singapore said crude prices are expected "to continue to be on its bearish trend".
"After what seemed to be profit-taking at the end of the year, oil bears have returned from their holidays and are back for more," he said.
"As we continue to take a bullish stand for the US economy, we expect the dollar to strengthen, thus putting further downward pressure on oil prices." Crude has lost nearly half its value since June owing to a global supply glut, as well as slowing growth in China and emerging market economies, a recession in Japan and a near-stall in the eurozone.
The OPEC oil-producing cartel in November said it would maintain output levels despite ample global supplies, in part due to cheaper oil extracted from North American shale rock.