Weekly prices declined for the first time since October, as a new coronavirus mutation spread through parts of the world and poses risks to energy demand. Futures in New York slid 1.8 percent this week yet closed up on Thursday, with equities gaining after the UK clinched an historic trade deal with the European Union. Stricter restrictions were extended to much of England to contain the new strain of Covid-19, and China said it would pause flights to and from the UK. A cluster of infections in Sydney is growing and, in the US, New York City hospitalizations are at the highest since May.
Prices rose for a seventh straight week as efforts to pass another US virus relief package added to optimism that the vaccine’s rollout will provide a boost in demand. Futures rose 1.5 percent in New York on Friday, extending this week’s rally to over 5 percent. Talks on a relief package have made some headway, and recent progress in rolling out a Covid-19 vaccine has also buoyed the outlook for consumption. Brent crude settled at $52.26 a barrel after touching $52.48, its highest since March. West Texas Intermediate settled at $49.10 after reaching $49.28, its highest since February.
Oil managed a small weekly gain last week as the impasse in Washington over pandemic relief dimmed chances of an imminent boost in demand. New York futures eased off a nine-month high alongside a broader market decline as bipartisan talks on another round of US fiscal stimulus stalled. West Texas Intermediate rose less than 1 percent for the week closing at $46.57. At week’s end, Bent closed at $49.97 after rallying above $50 earlier in the week for the first time since March. The futures market is primarily focused on the arrival of a vaccine for the coronavirus, which hopefully will open the way for demand to return to normal. Many, however, believe that “normal” demand still is months away and that there is much pain in the immediate future.
Prices rose for a fifth straight week with support from the OPEC+ deal and hopes for another round of US stimulus. Futures in New York and London closed at nine-month highs on Friday, with signs momentum is building toward a fiscal stimulus plan that could provide a demand boost before a vaccine is widely available.