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Barclays has become the latest bank to revise its oil price outlook for this year. The UK bank cut its forecast for Brent crude to $43 a barrel from $59, and for West Texas Intermediate to $40 from $54 previously, Reuters reported.
“Oil markets face a moment of truth as disagreement between key OPEC+ members means unhinged supplies will likely overwhelm near-term market balances amid large-scale demand destruction due to virus containment measures,” the bank said in a note.
Last week, Morgan Stanley also cut its outlook for Brent crude but not as much as Barclays because Saudi Arabia had not yet announced its price cuts and production growth plans. Morgan Stanley said it expected Brent crude to average $55 a barrel in the second quarter, down from $57.50 earlier, and WTI to trade at around $50 a barrel, down from $52.50.
Standard Chartered also cut its forecast on Brent and WTI this week. The UK bank now expects Brent crude to average $35 a barrel this year, down from $64 a barrel earlier. WTI is seen at $32 a barrel, down from $59 a barrel earlier.
These revisions will no doubt be followed by more as analysts rush to update their expectations in light of the latest developments in OPEC+, which amount to nothing less than an all-out price war.
With oil demand already severely hurt by the coronavirus outbreak that started in China but has now spread across the globe and the mild winter in the northern hemisphere that pressured demand for heating fuel, a price war could be the last straw for oil. Unless, as one strategist from JP Morgan told MarketWatch, the coronavirus returns for an encore performance in China.
This is one of the hypothetical events John Normand, head of cross-asset fundamental strategy at JP Morgan, said could complicate the situation. The other hypothetical event is a large-scale lockdown in the United States. The third one, an oil price war, is no longer hypothetical.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.