Oil rises a second day as stimulus hopes, expected OPEC cuts offset virus


SEOUL (Reuters) – Oil prices rose for a second day on Tuesday on expectations that central banks are likely to enact financial stimulus to offset the impacts of the coronavirus outbreak and growing optimism that OPEC will order deeper output cuts this week.

FILE PHOTO: A seagull flies in front of an oil platform in the Bouri Oilfield some 70 nautical miles north of the coast of Libya, October 5, 2017. REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi/File Photo

Brent crude LCOc1 rose $1.48 per barrel, or 2.5%, to $53.18 per barrel at 0148 GMT. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) CLc1 rose $1.33, or 2.8%, to $48.07 a barrel.

Brent and WTI have rebounded somewhat over the past two days from a more than 20% drop from their 2020 peak in January that was caused by signs the coronavirus spread has dented fuel demand.

Since Friday, WTI has gained 7.9% while the front-month Brent contract has climbed 7.5%, the biggest two-day percentage gains for both contracts since prices snapped back after the missile attacks on Saudi Arabian oil facilities in September 2019.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies, a group known as OPEC+, are expected to announce deeper output cuts at their meeting on March 5-6 in Vienna.

G7 finance ministers will also discuss this week how to best to cushion the impact of the outbreak on economic growth, French Finance Minister Le Maire said on Monday. That is occurring as other major central banks have promised monetary and fiscal stimulus.

The coronavirus, which originated in China, has spread to more than 60 countries and has killed over 3,000 people globally.

“Oil prices got their groove back after the world’s largest economies signaled they will be united in fighting off the economic impact of the coronavirus and on the Russian capitulation in agreeing to deliver deeper production cuts at this week’s meeting,” said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at OANDA.

“The coronavirus is still spreading globally and until markets can possibly calculate a return of normal travel and trade, oil will struggle.”

With lingering worries over oil demand amid the virus outbreak, several key members of OPEC are mulling a bigger oil output cut. The previous proposal was for an additional reduction of 600,000 barrels per day (bpd).

OPEC+ has agreed to current cuts of roughly 1.7 million bpd.

Russia’s energy minister Alexander Novak said on Monday that the country is evaluating an earlier and smaller oil production cut proposal made by OPEC and its allies.

Reporting By Jane Chung; Editing by Christian Schmollinger

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