Oil Prices Up on Drop in Supply

Oil prices rally on hopes for US stimulus

Oil prices rose modestly on Tuesday, but settled off the day's highs as the coronavirus pandemic's heavy toll on demand offset hopes for a forthcoming $2 trillion USA economic relief package.

American benchmark West Texas Intermediate was at $24.86 a barrel at the same time for a 3.54% gain after ending the previous session at $24.01 per barrel.

Brent crude LCOc1 was trading up 65 cents, or 2.4%, at $27.80 a barrel after earlier rising to a high of $28.29.

Still, demand for oil products, especially jet fuel, is falling worldwide as more governments announce nationwide lockdowns, putting a lid on oil price gains.

The chief executive of the world's biggest oil trader, Vitol Group, estimates a demand loss of 15 million to 20 million barrels per day (bpd) over the next few weeks.

Crude inventories rose by 1.6 million barrels in the most recent week. Cushing inventories rose 1.066 million barrel. Senior Democrats and Republicans said on Tuesday they were close to a deal on a $2 trillion coronavirus economic stimulus package.

"The extreme imbalance between supply and demand due to the travel restrictions has only just began to unfold in the physical markets, and the true impact will be felt in the coming weeks", said Rystad Energy's head of oil markets, Bjornar Tonhaugen, in a note.

Barclays on Tuesday slashed its oil price forecasts for 2020, citing considerable downward pressure on the market from a Saudi-Russian price war and demand disruption because of the coronavirus. The Dallas Fed said its business activity index plunged from -4.2 in the fourth quarter to -50.9 in the first, the lowest reading in the survey?s four-year history.

The market is also facing the threat of increased supplies after the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and other producers, including Russian Federation, a grouping known as OPEC+, failed to extend an agreement to cut production and support prices beyond end-March.

Vitol said refineries have so far cut about 7 million bpd, a figure the company expects to rise further as storage fills up.



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