Oil gains as market ignores new COVID-19 spike in cases

Oil gains as market ignores new COVID-19 spike in cases

Oil prices gain Friday morning, as traders ignore new COVID-19 spikes, partly correcting losses of previous sessions.

Oil prices rose on Friday, extending gains on optimism about a recovery in fuel demand worldwide. Despite a surge in coronavirus infections in some US states and signs of a revival in US crude production.

US WTI crude futures gained 57 cents, or 1.5%, to $39.29 at 0431 GMT; despite being on track for a slight drop for the week.

Rystad Energy’s Head of Oil Markets Bjornar Tonhaugen said, “Traders show some reserved positivity in today’s session. Although oil prices saw some modest gains earlier in the day, the contracts retreated a bit, only to tick up again.

Good run for prices

“Prices had a good run some days ago and both contracts enjoyed levels above $40. These levels lost in the last trading sessions as valid concerns about the continuous rise in infections in the US and other key markets weighted in.”

The risk is that the high rates of infections can bring back lockdowns and effectively slash demand again. And although road fuel demand seems to show signs of life, the concern fire is getting more fuel by the day, Tonhaugen said.

“Texas is halting its reopening plan after a spike in new cases and the US as a total reported a daily record high of new COVID-19 cases. No one undervalues these news, and although they don’t maybe currently reflect on the price, they can very well depress prices again,” he added.

How can prices move up when cases do, many wonder. The relation between the two is normally negative. The answer is just ‘policy’, Tonhaugen said.

“There is a belief in the market that countries will not go back to full lockdown as easily as in the first half of the year due to the economic consequences that such a move would have,” he added.

More trust on OPEC+

“Also, during the first wave, there was concern that the supply side did not recognize the problem. But this concern is not there any more, now there is more trust on OPEC+; with the group showing that it takes production cuts compliance seriously,” Tonhaugen said.

Russian Urals export programs for July are being reduced around 40% versus June; suggesting Moscow is truly sincere in upholding its pledge in the OPEC+ agreement, he said. He also added, elsewhere, laggard members are being pushed to contribute their share of the deal as agreed.

Overall it seems that on Friday the market is overly enthusiastic and ignores the risk attached to new record COVID-19 cases. But on a trading floor, a concern does not always translate into a problem, until it becomes one, Tonhaugen said.

“Remember for example the crude storage limitations some weeks ago. The market ignored issue continuously by the market until the last trading days of the front-month contract. And then we had the sudden price bungee jump we all well remember. But indications were there all along,” he said.

“But for what it’s worth, today’s gains could also be a form of price correction by the market. This is to make up for some of the losses it took during the last days,” he added.