Jan. 26 (UPI) -- Sentiments of emerging recovery in the energy sector as a whole offered some support to crude oil prices Thursday, despite supply-side pressures.
Oilfield services company Baker Hughes published quarterly earnings early Thursday, saying its losses continued despite an uptick in exploration and production activity. Martin Craighead, the company's CEO, said that costs were down and reductions weren't quite as severe as they were during the bottom of the downturn last year.
Despite wide day-to-day swings, crude oil prices have been relatively stable aside from a major spike in the first full trading day of the year. The price for Brent crude oil, the international benchmark, has hovered at around $55 per barrel for much of the year.
That stability was marred early this week by reports showing a build in U.S. crude oil inventories, suggesting a short-term tilt toward a glut ahead of a seasonal slowdown at the nation's refineries for regular maintenance.
Olivier Jakob, managing director of Switzerland-based consultant Petromatrix, said in an emailed report that a managed decline in production from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries was balancing against other factors, contributing to the short-term volatility.
"The OPEC production cuts are timed for the lower crude oil demand period of refinery maintenance and with the current amount of gasoline stocks the United States can afford a heavy period of refinery turnarounds," he said.
The price for Brent crude oil about a half hour before the start of U.S. trading was up 0.8 percent to $55.54 per barrel. West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark price for oil, was up 0.6 percent to $53.07 per barrel.
Brent closed the first full trading day of the year at $55.05 per barrel.
A survey from Norwegian risk consultant group DNV GL found respondents expected crude oil prices to average $57.80 per barrel this year.
Broader markets may be riding in the wake of the wave from a record close in U.S. trading, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average moving beyond the psychological threshold of 20,000 for the first time ever Wednesday. European stocks were edging higher in the early rounds of the Thursday session.