Oil prices gain on supply threats; demand concerns from coronavirus ease


SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Oil prices climbed on Thursday, extending gains from the previous session, as the market shifted focus to supply disruptions, while demand concerns eased following a drop in new coronavirus cases at the epicenter of the outbreak.

FILE PHOTO: Pump jacks operate at sunset in Midland, Texas, U.S., February 11, 2019. REUTERS/Nick Oxford

Conflict in Libya that has led to a blockade of its ports and oilfields shows no signs of a resolution, while U.S. sanctions on a subsidiary of Russian state oil major Rosneft (ROSN.MM) could cut more Venezuelan crude from the market, rekindling global oil supply worries.

Brent crude futures LCOc1 were up 14 cents, or 0.2%, to $59.26 a barrel by 0745 GMT, after climbing to as high as $59.71 earlier in the day. The international benchmark rose 2.4% on Wednesday and is currently up for an eighth straight day.

West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures CLc1 climbed 38 cents, or 0.7%, to $53.67 per barrel. WTI has risen in six out of seven sessions going back to Feb. 11.

“The supply disruptions are helping to alleviate the virus impact, but it is probably premature to think the worst of the economic impact is by and large over,” said Stephen Innes, chief market strategist at AxiCorp.

Brent crude may extend its gains to $60.22 per barrel, as suggested by its wave pattern and a projection analysis, according to Reuters technical analyst Wang Tao.

Libya’s internationally recognized leader Fayez al-Serraj dashed hopes of reviving peace negotiations on Wednesday after the Libyan National Army (LNA) of Khalifa Haftar shelled the port of the capital, held by al-Serraj’s government. The ongoing conflict has cut oil exports by 1 million barrels per day (bpd).

“The oil market is starting to realize that as bad as the demand destruction is from the coronavirus, the lack of exports from Libya might be meeting the oil demand destruction barrel for barrel,” said Phil Flynn, an analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago.

China’s move to cuts its benchmark lending rate on Thursday also helped to ease worries about demand destruction in the world’s second-biggest oil consumer and its largest crude oil importer.

China reported 349 new confirmed cases in Hubei province on Wednesday, the lowest in more than three weeks, while death toll rose by 108, down from 132 the previous day.

Meanwhile, U.S. industry data showing a bigger-than-expected build in crude oil inventories helped to cap the price gains.

U.S. crude stocks rose by 4.16 million barrels in the week to Feb. 14, compared with analyst expectations for a build of 2.5 million barrels, data from industry group the American Petroleum Institute showed on Wednesday.

Reporting by Koustav Samanta; Editing by Tom Hogue and Christian Schmollinger

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

2020-02-20 08:09:21

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