il steadied around its highest prices in three weeks on Monday, supported by comments from Saudi Arabia that it would continue to curb shipments in line with the OPEC-led effort to cut global supplies. Brent crude was last down 8 cents on the day at $67.23 a barrel at 1005 GMT, after having risen almost 4 percent last week in its largest weekly gain since late October. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude for April delivery eased 5 cents to $63.50 a barrel after rising 3 percent last week. Both contracts earlier rose to their highest since Feb. 7.
A cold snap across Europe has encouraged some refiners to delay maintenance, which could support demand and help to put an end to a mild bout of profit-taking, analysts said. There is a bit of a bearish twinge to everything … but we believe in the second half (of the year), you’ll see demand pull the market back up again,” Natixis oil analyst Joel Hancock said. “Our view is demand will be strong enough, but we don’t see a big breakout. $60 to 70 is the range we’re seeing for this year.”Prices did draw some support from Saudi Arabian oil minister Khalid al-Falih, who on Saturday said the country’s crude production in January-March would be well below output caps, with exports averaging less than 7 million barrels per day.