Oil price rises as traders weigh virus progress

Oil prices on Wednesday built on the previous day’s surge, boosted by signs of easing in the coronavirus which is allowing some countries to begin opening their economies.

International benchmark Brent gained 0.45 percent to $31.11 a barrel, reversing early losses, having surged 14 percent above $30 on Tuesday for the first time since mid-April.

US marker West Texas Intermediate climbed 1.1 percent to $24.18 a barrel, after rising 20 percent the previous day.

Oil markets were battered in April as the virus strangled demand owing to business closures and travel restrictions, with US crude price falling into negative territory for the first time.

However, they have started to rally, as governments from the Pacific to Europe and some US states report lower new infection rates and deaths, and begin easing tough lockdowns from Europe to Asia ease curbs and economies start shuddering back to life.

However, Donald Trump’s comments at the weekend hitting out at Beijing over its handling of the outbreak, saying it began in a Wuhan lab but so far offering no evidence, have raised tensions between the economic superpowers.

“Traders are incredibly cautious this morning, weighing all the possible China responses.

And the one that would hurt the most would be for China to reduce imports of US oil,” said Stephen Innes, chief global market strategist at AxiCorp.

The rally has also been supported by a deal agreed between top producers to reduce output by almost 10 million barrels a day, which came into effect on May 1.

And there are signs that the massive oversupply in the market is starting to ease as demand slowly comes back.