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Markets

Oil prices jump 2 percent on Covid-19 vaccine news

• Investors await OPEC+ meeting at end of the month NEW YORK: Oil prices surged 2% on Monday, extending last...
24 Nov 2020

• Investors await OPEC+ meeting at end of the month

NEW YORK: Oil prices surged 2% on Monday, extending last week's gains as the latest report of encouraging coronavirus vaccine trials had traders anticipating a recovery in demand.

Brent crude rose 90 cents, or 2% to $45.86 a barrel by 1610 GMT (12:10 EDT) while US West Texas Intermediate crude gained 51 cents to $42.93 a barrel, a 1.3% gain. Both benchmarks jumped 5% last week.

British drugmaker AstraZeneca said on Monday its vaccine, developed along with the University of Oxford, could be around 90% effective.

"Another dose of favorable coronavirus vaccine news today has prompted a renewed upswing in the equities that has easily spilled into the oil space," said Jim Ritterbusch, president of Ritterbusch and Associates in Galena, Illinois.

The contango structure in the market, whereby the prices of front-month delivery contracts are lower than those for delivery six months later, narrowed to as little as 31 US cents, its smallest since mid June, reflecting traders' views a sustained glut is receding.

Outlook for demand has improved with news indicating progress towards developing Covid-19 vaccines. A US official said the first inoculations in the United States could start a day or two after regulatory approval was secured.

PVM analyst Stephen Brennock said the news was detaching sentiment from "gloomy fundamentals".

"Investors are ignoring near-term headwinds, chief among which are surging global Covid infections, and instead looking ahead to next summer," he said.

Sentiment was also bolstered by expectations that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Russia and other producers, a group known as OPEC+, would extend a deal to restrain output.

On the supply side, OPEC+, which meets on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1., will look at options to extend its deal on output cuts by at least three months from January. Smaller Russian oil companies are still planning to pump more crude this year, a group representing the producers said.