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US Crude Adds to Gains, Enjoys Best Weekly Gain in History

April 3, 2020 at 19:22 by Andrew Moran

Crude oil futures are enjoying their best week in history as investors are anticipating the major producers to slash output levels amid the coronavirus pandemic. US crude prices posted another huge session of gains, adding to its weekly jump and paring its immense 2020 losses. Will Saudi Arabia and Russia follow through on what President Donald Trump told the press this week?

May West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures surged $3.13, or 12.36%, to $28.45 per barrel at 18:59 GMT on Friday on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Crude prices are poised for an immense weekly spike of 30%, marking the best five-day performance in history. Year-to-date, US crude is still down 53%.

Brent, the international benchmark for oil prices, is up slightly at the end of the trading week. June Brent crude futures edged up $0.25, or 0.73%, to $34.36 a barrel on London’s ICE Futures exchange. Brent is on track for a weekly increase of 21%, paring its YTD decline to 48%.

On Thursday, WTI and Brent posted their biggest single-day spike after President Trump revealed to CNBC that he spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. According to the president, Putin and MBS will slash production between 10 and 15 million barrels, though nothing is official and specifics remain unclear.

Despite oil markets rallying on the news, some analysts are skeptical. Industry observers believe that a reduction of that size would be difficult to achieve, particularly if the US does not participate. The White House is reportedly refraining from requesting American businesses to scale back operations, but many companies are cutting as much as $19 billion from their budgets.

On Monday, Riyadh, Moscow, and other major oil-rich nations will participate in a virtual meeting to debate production cuts. The consensus is that any legitimate deal would involve OPEC+ cutting supplies followed by US slashing output, too. Without the US, which has emerged as an energy powerhouse in recent years, any volume of cuts would be far below the 10-million barrels per day (bpd) mark.

Crude prices endured their worst month on record in March after Saudi Arabia recommended reducing production by 1.5 million bpd. Russia rejected the idea and the price war was launched. When the collapse in global demand already affected crude markets, oil slipped to its lowest level in 20 years.

On the data front, the Baker Hughes total oil rig count fell to 562, from 624 in the previous week.

In other energy commodities, May natural gas futures rose $0.065, or 4.19%, to $1.617 per million British thermal units (btu). May gasoline futures advanced $0.033, or 5.01%, to $0.696 per gallon. May heating oil futures added $0.095, or 9.62%, to $1.09 a gallon.

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