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OPEC Won’t Be Rushed By Coronavirus Fears

Market Movers

- The predominant theme in the oil markets is still the coronavirus and its effects on oil demand. This week, traders were waiting to hear whether Russia would be on board with deeper production cuts, but hopes were dashed on Thursday as OPEC and Russia announced that it would not move up its March 5-6 meeting to discuss the options earlier than planned, implying that Russia was probably not on board, as suspected. The decision to not move the meeting up highlights the lack of urgency among the cartel and its friends now that oil prices have rebounded somewhat this week. The cartel is clearly hopeful that waiting another two weeks will give them a better idea of how long the coronavirus outbreak will last and how the demand picture will shake out, likely weighing disturbing economic data from China such as coal usage, traffic patterns, and property sales that show a still-paralyzed economy, versus China’s insistence that activity is already returning to normal. In addition to the cartel’s preference for waiting for another couple of weeks to assess the necessity of extended or deeper cuts, whatever is decided will take a bit of time to implement, meaning that production and inventory relief is not just around the corner either way.

- As the coronavirus continues to undermine the LNG market, cancellations of cargoes are being closely watched. This week, Naturgy Energy Group SA (a giant Spanish utility owner) canceled two cargoes from US…

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