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Oil Prices Rise As China Eases Covid Restrictions

China announced on Friday an easing of its strict Covid measures that have weighed on the oil market in recent months, sending oil prices higher by more than 2.5% in early trade in Europe.   

The Chinese authorities said on Friday that quarantine times would be reduced for inbound passengers and close contacts of Covid-infected people while close contacts of close contacts would no longer be traced.

The new guidelines of China’s National Health Commission mark the first significant easing of the Chinese ‘zero-Covid’ policy, which has weighed on economic activity and fuel demand in the world’s top oil importer this year and has depressed the oil market.

The market cheered the easing of the Chinese Covid rules and both benchmarks jumped by more than 2% after the news broke.

With the new guidance on Covid management, China is now shortening the quarantine for travelers to eight from 10 days. Inbound travelers will now have to stay at a hotel or a government quarantine facility for five days – instead of seven under the previous rules – and then another three days in quarantine at home. China is also scrapping a controversial penalty for airlines that bring in infected passengers and will no longer trace close contacts of close contacts of people who have tested positive for Covid.

The first major easing of the “zero Covid” policies in China since the start of the pandemic in early 2020 signals that the authorities may cautiously proceed with a further gradual easing of the rules, which is set to boost economic activity and oil demand. The fact that the policy easing comes during the week in which China registered the highest nationwide new Covid cases in six months also suggests that Beijing may have started to realize that the draconian measures have isolated China and dragged down its economic growth.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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  • Mamdouh Salameh on November 11 2022 said:
    By virtue of being the world’s largest economy based on purchasing power parity (PPP) and also the largest importer of crude oil, whatever action China takes either pushes prices upward or causes them to decline.

    Luckily and as expected, China’s easing of its ‘zero-COVID’ policy signals its resumption of increasing crude oil imports, hence the rise in Brent crude price by more than 2.5% in early trade in Europe.

    This bullish factor along with the forthcoming EU embargoing of Russian seaborne crude oil imports from 5 December, the G7 capping of the price of Russian crude exports and Russia’s response combined could send oil prices on a steep upward trajectory with Brent crude ranging from $100-$110 a barrel before the end of the year.

    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economist
    Global Energy Expert

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