Oil prices struggle after WTI sinks below $60

Singapore - Oil prices sank further in Asia on Friday, with analysts warning of little respite from the the selling after plunging more than 40 percent since June.

US benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for January deliver was down 86 cents at USD 59.09 in mid-morning trade. The contract closed below the psychological USD 60 mark for the first time since July 2009 yesterday. Brent crude was down 52 cents at USD 63.16.

"There just doesn't seem to be any relief for oil prices at the moment," Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets in Sydney, told AFP.

"The bearish sentiment is unlikely to change until the end of the year unless we see a significant drop in global production levels or a supply disruption," he said.

WTI and Brent prices have fallen precipitously since hitting 2014 peaks of USD 106 and USD 115 respectively in June.

The drop has been attributed to slowing growth in China and emerging-market economies, a recession in Japan and a near-stall in the eurozone.

On top of that, OPEC last month said it would maintain output levels despite ample global supplies, in part due to cheaper oil extracted from North American shale rock.

McCarthy said at levels below USD 60, prices falls are likely to face "more resistance than at the moment".

Analysts said the crude market had largely ignored data showing a healthy rise in US retail sales in November that raised hopes about consumer demand in the world's largest economy. (PTI)