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Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Oil prices rise more than $1 after week of turmoil amid viral outbreak

Brent crude was up $1.07, or 5%, at $22.40 by 0432 GMT, after having climbed 5% on Thursday. US oil gained $1.12, or nearly 7%, at $17.62 a barrel, having surged 20% in the previous session.

By: Reuters | Tokyo | Published: April 24, 2020 12:13:17 pm
Brent is headed for a 20% loss this week, with US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) set for a fall of more than 3%. (Representative image)

Oil prices jumped again on Friday, gaining more ground as producers like Kuwait said they would move to cut output and as the United States approved another package to cope with the economic disruption caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

Brent crude was up $1.07, or 5%, at $22.40 by 0432 GMT, after having climbed 5% on Thursday. US oil gained $1.12, or nearly 7%, at $17.62 a barrel, having surged 20% in the previous session.

But barring a sharp jump later in the session, prices are heading for their eighth weekly loss in the last nine, capping one of the most tumultuous weeks in the history of oil trading.

Brent is headed for a 20% loss this week, with US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) set for a fall of more than 3%.

WTI fell into negative territory to minus $37.63 a barrel on Monday, while Brent thudded to a two-decade low.

“There is little in the way of fundamental developments to support the move higher, although given the amount of weakness recently, we were due a relief rally,” ING said in a note.

Under a deal agreed between the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Counties (OPEC) and associated producers including Russia, a grouping known as OPEC+, output cuts of 9.7 million barrels per day (bpd) are due to kick in from May.

But Kuwait’s state news agency KUNA said on Thursday the OPEC producer will begin cutting supplies to international markets without waiting for the official start of the deal.

Azerbaijan’s Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli oil project will also have to cut output sharply from May onwards to fulfil the country’s commitments under the deal, four sources told Reuters.

Meanwhile, US legislators approved a nearly $500 billion bill for relief from the pandemic, providing support to small businesses and hospitals. The package raises US spending on the crisis to nearly $3 trillion.

While some countries like Germany are starting to relax restrictions, the global economy may see a record contraction this year, according to a Reuters poll.

“The disruption relating to the coronavirus is set to cause the steepest fall in global GDP since the Second World War,” Capital Economics said in a note, forecasting a 5.5% contraction in global economies this year, dwarfing the 0.5% fall seen during the global financial crisis in 2008.

“Once the virus is under control, (economic) output should rebound, but it will take years to return to its pre-virus path,” it said.

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