Oil prices edged higher on Thursday as investors focused on the possibility of deeper supply cuts from the world's biggest producers.
Oil demand in China has dropped already because of the virus and the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries has lowered its 2020 demand forecast for its crude by 200,000 bpd, prompting expectations that OPEC and its allies including Russian Federation could agree further supply cuts when they next meet, possibly later this month.
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The outbreak has prompted Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil exporter, to push its allies in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and beyond to consider an emergency meeting and further production cuts. The organisation and its allies led by Russian Federation have implemented such curbs since 2017 to revive prices that had become depressed by a glut of crude.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) said that first-quarter oil demand was set to fall versus a year earlier for the first time since the financial crisis in 2009 because of the coronavirus outbreak. This will mark the first quarterly contraction in more than a decade and will have an impact on annual results, the IEA said in its oil market report, released on Thursday.
Q3 global oil demand to normalise, growing by 1.5 mln bpd year on year on likely stimulus measures in China. It has risen 5.4% since last Friday, its first weekly increase in six weeks.
"All of the fundamentals are basically negative and even equities are lower and crude oil on the other hand continues to rip higher", said Bob Yawger, director of futures at Mizuho Americas in NY.