Oil mixed on stimulus hopes and demands fears

March 27, 2020

LONDON (Mar 27) - Oil prices were mixed on Friday as the market weighed the potential benefits of stimulus efforts by policymakers around the world against the demand destruction caused by fallout from the rapid spread of the coronavirus.

Brent crude was on track for its fifth consecutive weekly drop. By 1029 GMT, it was down 39 cents, or 1.5%, at $25.95 a barrel.

U.S. crude was up 12 cents, or 0.5%, at $22.72.

Both of the benchmarks are down nearly two-thirds this year and the slump in economic activity and fuel demand because of the coronavirus crisis has forced massive retrenchment in investment by oil and other energy companies.

“Unlike the financial markets, the oil market is apparently finding it difficult to look beyond the current crisis,” Commerzbank analyst Eugen Weinberg said.

Oil requirements around the world may drop by 20% as 3 billion people are in lockdown, the head of the International Energy Agency Fatih Birol said as he called on major producers like Saudi Arabia to help to stabilize oil markets.

Analyst Weinberg said “We have our doubts about whether Saudi Arabia will allow itself to be persuaded so easily to return from the path of revenge that it only recently embarked upon.”

The Group of 20 major economies pledged on Thursday to inject more than $5 trillion into the global economy to limit job and income losses from the coronavirus and “do whatever it takes to overcome the pandemic.”

Leaders of the U.S. House of Representatives are determined to pass a $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill on Friday, or at the very latest on Saturday, hoping to provide the quickest help possible as deaths mount and the economy reels.

With 84,946 infections and 1,259 deaths, the United States faces the prospect of becoming the next global epicenter of the pandemic.

Mainland China reported its first locally transmitted coronavirus case in three days and 54 new imported cases, as Beijing ordered airlines to sharply cut international flights, for fear travelers could reignite the coronavirus outbreak.


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