Oil prices increased Monday, but only partly recovered from late-week losses as markets evaluated a new form of coronavirus. Additionally, investors are anticipating this week's OPEC meeting, which was purportedly postponed because of recent price volatility.
The new strain has triggered additional travel restrictions worldwide, after a World Health Organisation technical advisory panel called it a "possibility of concern." Investors are worried about the commodity's decline in demand as economic recovery attempts encounter roadblocks.
However, "as long as no new hurdles to economic recovery emerge," analysts at Sevens Report Research said in an e-mail Monday, "oil should stabilize."
After hitting an intraday high of $72.93, West Texas Intermediate crude for January delivery rose $1.80, or 2.6 percent, to end at $69.95 a barrel. According to Dow Jones Market Data, the contract fell $10.24, or 13.1 percent, on Friday to end at $68.15 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the worst one-day decrease for a front-month contract since April 20, 2020.
On ICE Futures Europe, the global benchmark January Brent crude, which expires at the conclusion of Tuesday's trading session, climbed 72 cents, or 1%, to $73.44 a barrel. Brent fell $9.50, or 11.6 percent, to $72.72 a barrel on Friday, the most one-day percentage drop since April 21, 2020, and both WTI and Brent closed at their lowest levels since September 9.
Following the Thanksgiving holiday, Friday's sell-off occurred on a shortened trading day, possibly exacerbating any volatility. As the main US market indexes began the week largely higher, there was increasing concern that Friday's sell-off had gone too far.
Michael Hewson, the chief market analyst at CMC Markets, wrote in a note to clients: "The drop in oil prices in response to concerns that any new restrictions would affect demand also appears excessive, which helps explain the subsequent rebound this morning, though it will be welcome news for beleaguered consumers who have had to endure a sharp increase in gasoline prices." According to a rising projection published this week, the dramatic decline might provide a reason for major oil-producing nations to delay planned production increases. Two technical meetings of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries have been rescheduled for this week to allow the organization to assess the situation.
Bloomberg and other news sites quoting sources report that OPEC and its allies, dubbed OPEC+, have rescheduled a joint technical committee meeting from Monday to Wednesday. According to reports, the joint ministerial monitoring committee was pushed from Tuesday to Thursday.
Following a monthly meeting in early November, a ministerial meeting between OPEC and non-OPEC members has been arranged for Thursday, Dec. 2. A decision on production levels is anticipated.
"The key market signal this week will be how OPEC+ responds to the omicron variant danger," Louise Dickson, senior oil markets analyst at Rystad Energy, said in a Monday note.
"Because the group is not accustomed to making snap policy decisions and prefers to stay behind the demand curve, we could expect either a continued cautious approach of bringing back 400,000 [barrels per day] on a monthly basis or an even more cautious maneuver that holds even more supply back until the COVID-19 impact chips fall," she said. J.P. Morgan analysts said in a research note dated Monday that "OPEC+ is not immune to the effects of underinvestment as examined over the last 18 months." They believe that OPEC's "actual" spare capacity will be around 2 million barrels per day in 2022, which is 43% less than the mainstream forecast of 4.8 million barrels per day.
J.P. Morgan analysts predict Brent oil to "overshoot" to $125 a barrel in 2022 and $150 a barrel in 2023 when they include that model of OPEC+ actual capacity.
Concerning omicron, several South African health specialists have said that the new strain seems to produce very moderate symptoms, albeit much more research is required. However, governments have tightened restrictions, with Israel and Japan fully closing their borders to international tourists as more examples emerge in Europe and abroad.
Meanwhile, according to a tweet from Russian Ambassador Mikhail Ulyanov, discussions to revive the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, popularly known as the Iran nuclear deal, resumed on Monday.
In other energy news, December gasoline gained about 2.4 percent to $2.077 per gallon, after falling 12.5 percent the day before. After falling 12.1 percent on Friday, December heating oil rose over 2.8 percent to $2.152 a gallon. At the end of Tuesday's session, the December contracts will expire.
After a more than 7% gain on Friday, January natural gas fell 11.4 percent to $4.854 per million British thermal units. Monday's drop was related to some expectations for warmer weather in portions of the United States, according to analysts.
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