Oil holds near year-long highs as COVID lockdowns seen easing

Oil holds near year-long highs as COVID lockdowns seen easing

/ 08:54 AM February 23, 2021

Oil prices were steady on Tuesday, trading close to more than year-long highs on signs that global coronavirus restrictions were being eased, although concerns about the pace of a U.S. economic recovery kept gains in check.

Brent crude was up 7 cents, or 0.1%, at $65.31 a barrel by 1505 GMT, still close to its highest levels since January 2020. U.S. crude fell 14 cents, or 0.2%, to $61.56 a barrel.


Both contracts rose more than $1 earlier before retreating.

Oil holds near year-long highs as COVID lockdowns seen easing

An employee holds a crude oil sample at the Yarakta oilfield, owned by Irkutsk Oil Co, in the Irkutsk region, Russia, on March 11, 2019. REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko/File Photo

“Vaccine news is helping oil, as the likely removal of mobility restrictions over the coming months on the back of vaccine rollouts should further boost the oil demand and price recovery,” UBS oil analyst Giovanni Staunovo said.


U.S. Economy and Oil

But, tempering the upbeat mood, the chair of the U.S. Federal Reserve, Jerome Powell, said the U.S. economic recovery remained “uneven and far from complete” and it would be “some time” before the central bank considered changing policies it had adopted to help the country back to full employment.

Commerzbank analyst Eugen Weinberg said upbeat price forecasts from U.S. brokers buoyed the recent oil price rise.

Goldman Sachs expects Brent prices to reach $70 per barrel in the second quarter from the $60 it predicted previously and $75 in the third quarter from the $65 forecast earlier.

Morgan Stanley, which expects Brent to reach $70 in the third quarter, said new COVID-19 cases were falling while “mobility statistics are bottoming out and are starting to improve.”

Bank of America said Brent prices could temporarily spike to $70 per barrel in the second quarter.

In the United States, traffic at the Houston ship channel was slowly returning to normal after last week’s winter storm, although production was not expected to restart soon fully.

Some U.S. shale producers forecast lower oil output in the first quarter.


Stockpiles of U.S. crude oil and refined products likely declined last week. A preliminary Reuters poll showed on Monday due to the disruption in Texas.

(Reporting by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin in London, additional reporting by Jessica Jaganathan in Singapore; Editing by David Evans and Edmund Blair)

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TAGS: Oil, oil industry, US economy
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