Crude oil futures contracts gained ground during the Asian trade session on Thursday. At one point they were up almost one percent as they extended gains from yesterday. The market is worried about supply disruptions.
A sharp drop in coronavirus cases in China also cooled off demand worries as China gets ready to restart factories and businesses. At least on limited operating schedules.
There are increasing tensions in the OPEC member nation of Libya. There is a blockade of key ports and oilfields. There is no sign that tensions will cool down anytime soon.
As of 2:10 am GMT, the international Brent crude oil futures contract was up 0.8 percent or 45 cents to fetch $59.57 a barrel. The Brent contract rose 2.4 percent on Wednesday.
West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures, for front month delivery, were also higher. The WTII contract added 0.9 percent to trade at $53.78 per barrel. U.S. crude gained 2.4 percent, as well, on Wednesday.
Sentiment Improves which Supports Cyclical Crude Oil Prices
Traders continue to monitor the fast spreading and deadly viral outbreak that originated in China and spread around the world. The number of coronavirus cases is falling lower in China. Traders are also expecting more monetary policy and fiscal stimulus out of Beijing.
Yesterday, health officials in the epicenter of the outbreak, China’s central Hubei province reported 349 new confirmed cases of coronavirus. This is down from 1,693 a day earlier and the lowest increase since January 25.
The Peoples’ Bank of China, as was expected, cut their overnight benchmark lending rate to support a slowing economy hit by this viral epidemic.
FOMC Meeting Minutes Show Cautious Optimism from Fed Policy Makers
Yesterday, the U.S. Federal Reserve Board published their monetary policy meeting minutes from last month.
The FOMC, the monetary policy arm of the Fed, is cautiously optimistic with the economy and see monetary policy settings in a good place to sustain growth and spur inflation towards their target of two percent.
The FOMC did mention the coronavirus but comments were limited as the virus had not become a full blown problem when this meeting was taking place.