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Oil prices rebound after ECB launches virus measures

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Oil prices rebounded strongly on Thursday a day after US crude hit its lowest level for 18 years, as the European Central Bank launched a bond-buying scheme to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

[SINGAPORE] Oil prices rebounded strongly on Thursday a day after US crude hit its lowest level for 18 years, as the European Central Bank launched a bond-buying scheme to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

US benchmark West Texas Intermediate was up almost 17 per cent at nearly US$24 a barrel, a day after plunging 24 per cent.

International benchmark Brent crude was up 8.5 per cent at US$27 a barrel, a day after slumping 14 per cent.

Oil markets have been hammered due to collapsing demand as the virus prompts sweeping travel restrictions and business closures, and as major producers Saudi Arabia and Russia engage in a price war.

Thursday's jump came as investors bought the commodity at bargain prices, and followed the ECB's surprise announcement of a 750-billion-euro scheme to purchase government and corporate bonds.

The so-called Pandemic Emergency Purchase Programme comes just six days after the ECB unveiled a stimulus package that failed to calm nervous markets, piling pressure on the bank to open the financial floodgates.

Analysts predict oil prices will remain at multi-year lows for some time, however.

"The continued containment and lockdown response of the world's major economies in response to Covid-19 will advance to a sharp impact on oil demand," said AxiCorp's Stephen Innes.

AFP