Energy traders took a break from selling down oil Friday, but sentiment remained bearish for prices as a warm winter continues.

Nearby futures contracts for light, sweet crude were unchanged at $55.59 a barrel in recent trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Prices for natural gas were ahead by 1.1 cents at $6.173 per million British Thermal Units, also on the Nymex.

A report from the Energy Information Administration showed the impact of the recent unseasonably warm temperatures, as stocks of natural gas totaled 3.074 trillion cubic feet as of a week ago, off only 47 billion cubic feet from seven days prior.

Traders had been expecting larger declines. In the same period a year ago, inventories in the lower 48 states totaled 2.641 TcF.

"It's primarily a weather play," says Max Pyziur, an energy analyst at CPM Group in New York. "Given that the near-term forecast over the next six to 10 days is calling for milder weather than expected, it would make sense for prices to stay at current levels or pull back."

He also notes that Russia and Europe are also enjoying better weather than usual, which has dampened demand.

Chart watchers also see the possibility of crude prices going down further. Look for initial support at $52 a barrel, followed by $47 and then a rock-solid level at $42, says Larry Levin, president of SecretsOfTraders.com in Chicago. On the upside, he sees increasingly tough resistance at $60, $64 and then $68.

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