Oil Rises on Weaker Dollar and Commodity Optimism
(Bloomberg) -- Brent oil rose past $55 a barrel -- with some assistance from a weakening dollar -- as the growing popularity of commodities outweighed signs that a resurgence of the coronavirus in Asia is starting to impact demand.
Futures in London climbed as much as 1.2% after falling around 3% over the previous two sessions. Investors have rushed back into the crude market this year, with total holdings of Brent and West Texas Intermediate futures at the highest since May. The move is being driven by expectations for energy demand to recover as vaccines are rolled out and as several big banks recommend commodities as a hedge against a likely acceleration in inflation.
Crude is rising even as government calls for Chinese citizens not to travel over the Lunar New Year holidays stoke concern that Asian demand will take a near-term hit. Much of Japan is also under a state of emergency, while Indian energy consumption has gotten off to a shaky start to the new year.
After a scorching start to 2021 as Saudi Arabia announced unilateral output cuts, oil’s rally has run out of steam over the past few sessions as more virus lockdowns and travel restrictions sap short-term demand. The International Energy Agency is due to release its monthly report on the global oil market later on Tuesday.
“Although the dollar is largely dictating market direction at the moment, there could be more volatility with the IEA report,” said Warren Patterson, head of commodities strategy at ING Bank NV. “Demand estimates will be of interest, given the wave of lockdowns we have seen over the last month or so.”
The market is now looking ahead to the inauguration on Wednesday of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden, who is proposing a $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief package that promises to boost the economy and energy demand if passed.
Oil’s futures curve shows sentiment is mixed. Brent’s prompt timespread is 3 cent a barrel in backwardation, a bullish market structure where near-dated prices are higher than later-dated ones. It was 3 cents in contango on Friday.
© 2021 Bloomberg L.P.
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