|26 March, 2020

Oil prices mixed as demand shrinks, but stimulus hopes support

Products supplied, a proxy for U.S. demand, dropped nearly 10% to 19.4 million bpd

Image used for illustrative purpose. Pipelines are seen at the TOTAL oil refinery on January 10, 2007 in Leuna, Germany.

Image used for illustrative purpose. Pipelines are seen at the TOTAL oil refinery on January 10, 2007 in Leuna, Germany.

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MELBOURNE: Oil prices were mixed on Thursday following three days of gains, with the prospect of rapidly dwindling demand due to coronavirus travel bans and lockdowns offsetting hopes a U.S. $2 trillion emergency stimulus will shore up economic activity.

West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude CLc1 futures slipped 4 cents, or 0.2%, to $24.45 as of 0018 GMT, while Brent crude LCOc1 futures rose 12 cents, or 0.4%, to $27.51.

"With lockdowns in many countries, expectations of oil demand contracting by more than 10 million barrels per day (bpd) are rising. Such demand loss will increase the supply glut," Australia and New Zealand Banking Group analysts said in a note.

The collapse of a supply-cut pact between the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and other producers led by Russia is set to boost oil supply, with Saudi Arabia planning to ship more than 10 million bpd from May.

"Production increases by Saudi Arabia and Russia loom, and things still look uncertain due to the ongoing price war between these two countries," ANZ said.

U.S. crude inventories rose by 1.6 million barrels in the most recent week, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday, marking the ninth straight week of increases. 

Products supplied, a proxy for U.S. demand, dropped nearly 10% to 19.4 million bpd, EIA data showed.

(Reporting by Sonali Paul; editing by Richard Pullin) ((Sonali.Paul@thomsonreuters.com; +61 3 9286 1419;))

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