Oil prices fell slightly on Monday following a commitment from OPEC’s president that the group was prepared to keep the market well supplied.
After dropping as low as $47.60 per barrel, light, sweet crude for June delivery settled 6 cents lower at $48.61 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
On London’s International Petroleum Exchange, June Brent crude futures fell 61 cents to settle at $48.05 per barrel. Unleaded gasoline futures fell 0.7 cent to $1.4052 a gallon.
Last week, Nymex prices fell by more than $4 a barrel, weighed down by rising supplies in the United States, lower-than-expected demand in China and the strengthening of the dollar against other major currencies.
At their peak in early April, oil prices were almost 70 percent higher than a year earlier.
Now they are about 18 percent higher than a year ago.
Sheik Ahmed Fahd Al Ahmed Al Sabah, who is also Kuwait’s oil minister, said Sunday that the group’s current output and spare production capacity will keep the market well supplied through the year.
Some market-watchers had expressed concern about demand later this year, but Al Sabah said OPEC will pump 30.5 million barrels a day — 300,000 to 500,000 barrels a day above current levels — to meet its estimate for fourthquarter demand.
‘‘Certainly, the market sentiment seems to be on the bearish side now that the psychologically significant $50 mark has been breached,’’ said oil analyst Victor Shum at Texas-based Purvin & Gertz in Singapore.
Shum said current prices are typical of lower demand in the second quarter, just before the market starts building inventories when demand peaks due to the onset of the summer driving season.