Prices rose for a fourth straight week, buoyed by optimism over Covid-19 vaccine progress ahead of an OPEC+ ministerial meeting this week. Futures in New York advanced 8 percent last week, despite edging lower on Friday. The shape of the oil futures curve firmed over recent sessions, with some nearer-dated futures contracts rising above later-dated ones. It’s a sign of how the market has dramatically repriced the increased likelihood of a vaccine rollout jumpstarting more robust demand next year.
Last week. prices rose to the highest in nearly three months, with positive Covid-19 vaccine developments paving the way for a more sustained oil demand recovery. Futures rose 5 percent in New York for a third straight weekly gain as Pfizer and BioNTech requested emergency authorization of their Covid vaccine Friday. Moderna also released positive interim results from a final-stage trial and said it is close to seeking emergency authorization. Gains were limited by broader market declines amid a dispute between the White House and the Federal Reserve over emergency lending programs. Brent crude closed out the week at $44.96 a barrel. The more active US West Texas Intermediate closed Friday at $42.42.
Futures fell 2.4 percent in New York on Friday, closing at $40.13, but still posted the largest weekly gain in a month as optimism about a potential Covid-19 vaccine jolted markets earlier in the week. While global oil markets rallied on the latest vaccine trial results, they are unlikely to feel any significant economic benefits until well into next year, the IEA said Thursday. The agency darkened its outlook for crude consumption in the months ahead, citing resurgent Covid-19 infection rates in the US and Europe. It now expects demand for 2020 to fall by 8.8 million barrels a day this year—400,000 barrels a day more than its last forecast.
Expectations over OPEC+ delaying its planned output increase in January and a post-election rally in equities helped crude prices with a strong start last week. But a string of renewed lockdowns in Europe and record case counts in the US kept any upward price momentum in check. Brent crude settled down $1.48, or 3.62 percent, at $39.45 a barrel on Friday and West Texas Intermediate dropped $1.65, or 4.25 percent to $37.14 a barrel.
Oil posted its largest monthly drop since March as renewed lockdown measures to contain the coronavirus threatened to upend a shaky demand recovery. Futures fell 1.1 percent in New York on Friday to end the week below $36 a barrel, taking their cue from a broader market selloff and the worst week for US stocks since March. Simultaneously, the US posted a record surge in daily coronavirus infections, while new restrictions in Europe could drive the region toward another recession.