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Oil prices extend gains on demand hopes as lockdowns ease
Oil field flare and pump

Oil prices extend gains on demand hopes as lockdowns ease

Oil prices jumped again on Tuesday on hopes for a recovery in vehicle traffic and fuel demand, as some U.S. states and countries in Europe and Asia start to ease coronavirus lockdown measures.

West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude CLc1 futures surged 9.9%, or $2.01, to $22.40 per barrel as of 0705 GMT. The U.S. benchmark has now risen for five sessions in a row. Brent crude LCOc1 futures were up 6.9%, or $1.87, at $29.07, rising for a sixth straight day.

Prospects improved for fuel demand as some U.S. states and several countries, including Italy, Spain, Portugal, India and Thailand, began allowing some people to go back to work and opened up construction sites, parks and libraries.

Vehicle traffic in most U.S. jurisdictions, including those yet to lift shelter-in-place orders, has rebounded, as people have increased their mobility, RBC Capital Markets research said in a note.

“Considering … the depths of demand destruction, markets are probably inclined to take any good news relatively quickly,” said Daniel Hynes, senior commodity strategist at Australia and New Zealand Banking Group.

Reflecting hopes that the oil industry may have passed the worst point of coronavirus-induced lockdowns, hedge funds and money managers were buyers of petroleum derivatives for a fifth straight week to the week ended April 28.

Still, global oil demand probably collapsed by as much as 30% in April, analysts have said, and the recovery is likely to be slow, especially with airlines expected to remain largely grounded for months to come.

Australian national carrier Qantas Airways’ (QAN.AX) Chief Executive Alan Joyce said on Tuesday that “international travel demand could take years to return to what it was.”

“Travel demand is essentially zero for the foreseeable future,” United Airlines Holdings Inc spokesman Frank Benenati said. The Chicago-based carrier plans to cut at least 3,400 management and administrative positions in October.

With Saudi Arabia, Russia other major producers and companies slashing output, the market shrugged off a decision by a Texas energy regulator to abandon a proposal for a 20% output cut in the United States’ biggest oil-producing state.

“The intent in itself was positive – but it was always going to be a long shot,” Hynes said.

U.S. crude oil stockpiles were seen rising for a 15th consecutive week, while inventories of oil products also likely built last week, a preliminary Reuters poll showed.

Citi analysts expect that as demand returns significant production curtailments will turn the record inventory builds of the second quarter into record draws in the third quarter.