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Barclays, Goldman forecast bearish first half for oil prices

An oil field is seen at sunrise near Bakersfield, California October 14, 2014. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/Files

REUTERS - Barclays Plc and Goldman Sachs Group Inc issued even more bearish forecasts for oil prices on Wednesday, predicting no significant recovery in the first half of 2015.

Barclays slashed its 2015 Brent crude oil price forecast to $44 a barrel from $72, while Goldman said it expected prices for West Texas Intermediate crude to trade close to $40 per barrel for most of the first half of 2015.

"We expect to see further downside to prices in the next few months, with both WTI and Brent likely to trade into the high $30s before the oil price decline is arrested," Barclays analyst Michael Cohen said in a note to clients.

The British investment bank, which based its assumptions on the refusal of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to cut output, non-OPEC supply growth and slower consumption, cut its 2015 average price forecast for WTI crude to $42 from $66 per barrel.

Barclays' revised forecasts for Brent and West Texas Intermediate are the most bearish from banks such as Goldman, Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank AG and Bank of America Merrill Lynch. [ID:nL6N0V70T2]

Goldman, one of the most active banks in commodities, said that after a very weak first half prices should recover to $65 per barrel for WTI and $70 for Brent.

"This suggests a strong recovery from current prices, but the timing is uncertain and we would wait for signs of stabilization (less inventory build and better roll yields) before shifting to a more positive stance on commodities," the bank said in a note.

Oil slipped below $49 a barrel on Wednesday after an industry report said U.S. crude stocks rose by the most on record last week, and as a firmer dollar added to pressure on prices.

(Reporting by Koustav Samanta and Vijaykumar Vedala in Bengaluru and Dmitry Zhdannikov in London; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)