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Brent pares losses, US crude up on stimulus hopes

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Global benchmark Brent crude pared losses on Wednesday and the US crude price rose on hopes that a US economic stimulus deal would support the market, even as concerns about the coronavirus pandemic continued to loom over demand forecasts.

[NEW YORK] Global benchmark Brent crude pared losses on Wednesday and the US crude price rose on hopes that a US economic stimulus deal would support the market, even as concerns about the coronavirus pandemic continued to loom over demand forecasts.

US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin both expressed hope for a breakthrough on coronavirus relief, as the House stood poised to vote on a new US$2.2 trillion Democratic coronavirus bill.

With pressure mounting ahead of the Nov 3 election, Mr Mnuchin said he thought he and Ms Pelosi could "reach a reasonable compromise" and would know in the next day or two whether they had an "overall understanding." "The race is on to a stimulus bill," said Bob Yawger, director of energy futures at Mizuho in New York.

"It's good for all industries, and especially for oil, because it is a demand indicator for crude demand," Mr Yawger said.

While Mr Yawger remains pessimistic about a deal coming to fruition, he said it is lending temporary strength to the market.

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Progress on the stimulus brought Brent crude for November delivery up from its session low of US$40.30 a barrel. It ended the session down 8 cents at US$40.95 a barrel. West Texas Intermediate rose 93 cents, or 2.4 per cent to US$40.22 a barrel.

The November Brent contract expires on Wednesday, to be replaced by the December contract, which settled up 74 cents at US$42.30 a barrel.

Also supporting prices, US weekly crude inventory data showed stockpiles fell by 2 million barrels in the week to Sept 25, a deeper draw than analysts had expected.

Exports rose while imports fell, helping facilitate the drawdown. Net US crude imports fell last week by 536,000 barrels per day, EIA said, to 1.6 million bpd.

The benchmarks fell more than 3 per cent on Tuesday as global Covid-19 cases passed 1 million, having doubled in three months.

A Reuters monthly oil poll showed prices would have little upside this year.

"The increasing number of Covid-19 cases continues to raise alarm bells on energy demand," said Avtar Sandu, senior commodities manager at Phillip Futures.

CEOs of the world's biggest trading companies are forecasting a weak recovery for oil demand and little movement in prices, potentially for years.

Marathon Petroleum Corp, the largest oil refiner in the United States, started imposing job cuts on Tuesday, according to people familiar with the matter.

Royal Dutch Shell also said it would cut up to 9,000 jobs.

To counter the fall in demand, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries is unlikely to increase oil production as planned from January next year, top oil traders said on Tuesday.

AFP

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