Oil heads for another weekly slide after coronavirus turmoil

Offshore oil platforms are seen on April 20, 2020 in Huntington Beach, California. Oil prices traded in negative territory for the first time as the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) impacts demand.

Michael Heiman | Getty Images

Oil prices rose on Friday, gaining further ground as some producers like Kuwait said they would move to cut output swiftly to try to counter the evaporation in global demand for fuels caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

U.S. oil gained 48 cents, or 2.8%, to trade at $16.99 per barrel, after surging nearly 20% in the previous session. Brent crude was up 83 cents, or 3.9%, at $22.13, having climbed 5% on Thursday.

But barring a sharper jump on the last trading day of the week, prices are heading for their eighth weekly loss in the last nine — one of the most tumultuous weeks in the history of oil trading, with U.S. West Texas Intermediate falling into negative territory to minus $37.63 a barrel on Monday, while Brent thudded to a two-decade low.

“The disruption relating to the coronavirus is set to cause the steepest fall in global GDP since the Second World War,” Capital Economics said in a note, forecasting a 5.5% contraction in global economies this year, dwarfing the 0.5% fall seen during the global financial crisis.

“Once the virus is under control output should rebound, but it will take years to return to its pre-virus path,” it said.

Under a deal agreed between the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Counties (OPEC) and associated producers like Russia, a grouping known as OPEC+, production cuts equal to 9.7 million barrels of oil per day are due to kick in from May.

But Kuwait’s state news agency KUNA said on Thursday the producer will begin cutting supplies to international markets without waiting for the official start of the OPEC+ deal.

Meanwhile Azerbaijan’s Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli oil project will have to cut output sharply from May onwards as the oil producer fulfills its commitments under the deal to cut production, four sources told Reuters.

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