BofA Counters Goldman's Oil Call

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Goldman Sachs roiled the oil market earlier this week with a negative call on the commodity, but Bank of America Merill Lynch countered its rival's view on oil today by saying there is a 30% chance that Brent North Sea crude could trade up to $160 a barrel this year.

Brent crude trade on the ICE futures exchange added $1.96, or 1.6%, to $122.88 a barrel today despite the U.S. Energy Department saying oil inventories rose 1.6 million barrels last week. Analysts were expecting an increase of 1.1 million barrels.

''Commodity prices should move broadly higher in 2011 on robust economic growth in emerging markets, despite relatively weaker growth in developed markets,'' said Sabine Schels, a commodity strategist at BoA Merrill Lynch in London in a research note, CNBC reported. Schels added that Brent could move above $140 a barrel in the next three months.

The analyst expects Brent to average $122 a barrel in the second quarter and said Brent could average $125-$160 a barrel for 2011 under BofA Merrill Lynch's upside risk scenario.