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Oil steady on new lockdowns, vaccine hopes

Bozorgmehr Sharafedin
·2 mins read
FILE PHOTO: The sun is seen behind a crude oil pump jack in the Permian Basin in Loving County
FILE PHOTO: The sun is seen behind a crude oil pump jack in the Permian Basin in Loving County

By Bozorgmehr Sharafedin

LONDON (Reuters) - Oil steadied on Monday, pressured by concerns over surging coronavirus cases globally and by Libya's plan to boost output, but prices found some support from hopes for a U.S. fiscal package and expectations of a vaccine by the end of the year.

Brent was up 1 cent, or less than 0.1%, at $42.94 a barrel at 1402 GMT. U.S. crude was up 13 cents, or 0.3%, at $41.01

Worldwide coronavirus cases crossed 40 million on Monday, according to a Reuters tally.

"Even if the recent record-high new cases of COVID-19 worldwide have not yet caused demand forecasts to be revised further downwards, there is no sign as yet of the hoped-for recovery," said Commerzbank analyst Eugen Weinberg.

Many European governments are tightening lockdowns to curb the spread of the virus.

"This latest swathe of stringent restrictions will inevitably impede economic growth and undermine the fuel demand recovery," said Stephen Brennock of oil broker PVM.

Investors are focusing on the OPEC+ oil producer group's Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee (JMMC) meeting on Monday. OPEC+ consists of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and producer allies such as Russia.

The committee is expected to discuss the weakening demand outlook as well as increased output from Libya, but is unlikely to recommend immediate action, sources told Reuters.

The Kremlin signalled on Monday a new round of oil talks with Saudi Arabia ahead of the meeting.

Libya has significantly boosted its output after the easing of a blockade by eastern forces in September. The 70,000-barrels-per-day Abu Attifel oilfield is expected to begin its restart on Oct. 24 after being shut down for months, two engineers said.

But hopes for a new U.S. stimulus lent some support to prices as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Sunday she was optimistic that legislation on a wide-ranging relief package could be pushed through before the election.

Drugmaker Pfizer Inc said on Friday it could file in late November for U.S. authorization of the COVID-19 vaccine it is developing, suggesting that a vaccine could potentially be available in the United States by the end of the year.

Bank of America projected Brent and WTI would average $44 and $40 per barrel in 2020, respectively, and $50 and $47 per barrel in 2021.

Meanwhile, China's oil-buying frenzy earlier this year is expected to slow in the fourth quarter. Chinese refiners slowed their processing rates in September.

(Reporting by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin in London; Additional reporting by Florence Tan in Singapore; Editing by David Goodman, Mark Potter and Mark Heinrich)