Oil prices gained over 5% early on Monday, as traders were assessing the threat to demand from the Omicron Covid variant and the potential pause of monthly increases in production from the OPEC+ group.
As of 9:57 a.m. EST on Monday, WTI Crude was back to above $70 per barrel, at $72.28, up 6.25% on the day. The U.S. benchmark slumped to $69 on Friday when the market was panicking over Omicron, the new heavily mutated coronavirus variant detected in South Africa, which the WHO classified as a “variant of concern.”
On Monday, Brent Crude was trading at $76.29, up 4.91%, as of 9:57 a.m.
Panic over whether the still little-researched new variant will escape vaccine protection led to a crash on all markets on Friday, and crude oil led the plunge as countries started to announce bans on flights from African countries. The low liquidity on the oil market in the festive period in the U.S. also contributed to the collapse in prices, which was the largest one-day crash since April 2020.
On Monday, the markets were rebounding as traders, investors, and speculators are awaiting scientific evidence of whether Omicron should be as feared as the oil market appeared to fear on Friday.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Sunday that it was not clear yet if Omicron is more transmissible or if infection with Omicron causes more severe disease compared to infections with other variants, including Delta. Related: 3 Chip Stocks To Watch As The Semiconductor Shortage Worsens
Oil market participants are also weighing the possibility that the OPEC+ group will decide later this week to pause the monthly increases in its oil production. Some analysts believe that the alliance could scrap a January increase in production, although Russia and Saudi Arabia hinted on Monday that there is no need to rush to hasty decisions.
“We believe the group could take a pause in its current supply increases,” due to a potential hit to demand from Omicron, ING strategists Warren Patterson and Wenyu Yao said on Monday.
“The group may decide to postpone the January production increase or if necessary, temporary cut production into a period that was already expected to see the return of a balanced market,” said Ole Hansen, Head of Commodity Strategy at Saxo Bank.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
More Top Reads From Oilprice.com:
- Canada's Ambitious New Plan To Save Its Oil Sands
- Green Fintech Is A New Trend Investors Can’t Ignore
- The Electric Vehicle Charging Market Could Be Worth As Much As $1.6 Trillion
Last week’s Brent price collapse of 10% was triggered by rising concerns about the new variant from South Africa and the possibility that major economies might re-impose lockdown.
However, a return to lockdown by the world’s major economies is unthinkable because of its very adverse impact on the global economy, availability of billions of vaccines in the world and peoples’ fierce opposition to lockdown.
Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
International Oil Economist
Visiting Professor of Energy Economics at ESCP Europe Business School, London
Plus natural gas prices were absolutely annihilated today as well. There is no *EVIDENCE* of a booming US economy either...indeed when one combines Treasury yields as a proxy for economic growth plus inflation and the USA continues to be "hung up" in a rather odd "virus' mutate" failure to break out from the 2008 collapse.
Still obviously the US economy is hardly muddling along either... *UNEVEN* in the extreme i guess I would say.