The price of Brent crude oil dropped to $49 a barrel today as the dollar strengthens and US crude inventories increase.

Reuters reported that Brent declined 45 cents to $49.15 a barrel, while US crude dropped 73 cents to settle at $45.50 a barrel.

"The American Petroleum Institute revealed that US crude inventories increased by 12.7 million barrels last week."

CMC Markets chief analyst Ric Spooner was quoted by the news agency as saying: "The key driver for oil prices in the last few days has been currency fluctuations. We had seen some weakness in the US dollar, which helped support prices overnight."

Investors await official US inventory data, which is scheduled to be announced later today.

Meanwhile, the American Petroleum Institute revealed that US crude inventories increased by 12.7 million barrels last week, which is three times more than the estimated volume.

Oil prices have declined nearly 60% since June 2014 as a result of abundant US shale oil boom supplies and OPEC’s decision to not reduce its production output.

The move has led several forecasters to cut their oil estimates.

Goldman Sachs has cut its prediction for Brent to $85 a barrel from $100, with the US crude forecast being lowered to $75 from $90 for the first quarter of this year.

Credit Suisse and Barclays have also reduced their estimates for Brent to $58 and $44 a barrel, respectively.