Oil prices fall under pressure over rising number of COVID-19 cases in China

Oil prices drifted lower at the first trading session in London, recording a second consecutive trading session of losses, as the ever-rising number of COVID-19 cases, particularly in China, raise energy demand fears.

What you should know: At the time of writing this report, Brent crude was down by 0.24% to trade at $55.12 barrel, and West Texas Intermediate futures inched down by 0.10% to $52.22 a barrel.

China’s National Health Commission revealed that the world’s largest importer of oil recorded 124 cases on Jan. 24, up from 80 earlier, which is the worst wave of new COVID-19 infections seen since March 2020.

Stephen Innes, Chief Global Market Strategist at Axi, in a note to Bigwig FX, spoke on current fundamentals weighing on oil prices, at least for the near term. In addition, he spoke on how the COVID-19 pandemic seemed to distort the bullish rally.

“The Lunar New Year headline heebie-jeebies did a number on oil prices into weeks end. Yet after hitting an intraday low US$54.48 per barrel, Brent crude managed to close above US$55 despite the clear demand impacts of lockdowns in Europe and additional measures in China.

The enormous question mark remains around demand and supply.

  • The street uniformly downgraded Q1 21 market in the world ex-China due to clear demand impacts of lockdowns in Europe to start the year. But last week it was back to the downward demand revision drawing board.
  • More worryingly, however, since Asia has been the backbone of physical crude oil demand, this time it was to down-ballot China consumption as lockdowns spread in the country just weeks ahead of the Lunar New Year travel surge.”

What to expect: Still, the one million barrels per day of additional Saudi curbs over February and March should alleviate the currently projected level of attrition in global demand recovery without much impact on the path of OECD inventory draws.


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