Oil falls but remains set for biggest monthly gain in years

Chinese President Xi Jinping votes on the Hong Kong proposal. (AFP)
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Updated 30 May 2020

Oil falls but remains set for biggest monthly gain in years

LONDON: Oil prices were dragged sharply lower on Friday by weak US fuel demand, fears of a second wave of coronavirus cases in South Korea and a worsening in US-China relations, but were still on track for a hefty monthly gain.

July Brent crude fell 72 cents, or 2 percent, to $34.57 a barrel by midday in London. US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude was down 83 cents, or 2.5 percent, at $32.88.

Still, WTI made a record monthly gain of 75 percent in May, with Brent up by about 37 percent, its strongest monthly rise since March 1999.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • WTI on track for record monthly gain
  • Brent has biggest monthly increase since March 1999
  • OPEC+ considers extending output cuts beyond June

“The global reaction to China’s move to propose new security laws for Hong Kong continues to increase, while there’s a score of new COVID-19 cases in South Korea,” said Rystad Energy’s head of oil markets, Bjornar Tonhaugend. 

Thursday’s data from the Energy Information Administration showed that US crude oil and distillate inventories rose sharply last week. 

Fuel demand remained slack even as various states lifted travel restrictions they had imposed to curb the coronavirus pandemic, analysts said.

Looking ahead, traders will be watching the outcome of talks on output cuts between the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and allies including Russia, a group known as OPEC+, in the second week of June.

Saudi Arabia and some OPEC members are considering extending record production cuts of 9.7 million barrels per day beyond June, but have yet to win support from Russia.


Saudi Arabia’s 6-point plan to jumpstart global economy

Updated 07 July 2020

Saudi Arabia’s 6-point plan to jumpstart global economy

  • Policy recommendations to G20 aim to counter effects of pandemic

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia, in its capacity as president of the G20 group of nations, has unveiled a six-point business plan to jump start the global economy out of the recession brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Yousef Al-Benyan, the chairman of the B20 business group within the G20, told a webinar from Riyadh that the response to the pandemic -— including the injection of $5 trillion into the global economy — had been “reassuring.”

But he warned that the leading economies of the world had to continue to work together to mitigate the effects of global lockdowns and to address the possibility of a “second wave” of the disease.

“Cooperation and collaboration between governments, global governance institutions and businesses is vital for an effective and timely resolution of this multi-dimensional contagion transcending borders,” Al-Benyan said.

“The B20 is strongly of the view there is no alternative to global cooperation, collaboration and consensus to tide over a multi-dimensional and systemic crisis,” he added.

The six-point plan, contained in a special report to the G20 leadership with input from 750 global business leaders, sets out a series of policy recommendations to counter the effects of the disease which threaten to spark the deepest economic recession in nearly a century.

The document advocates policies to build health resilience, safeguard human capital, and prevent financial instability.

It also promotes measures to free up global supply chains, revive productive economic sectors, and digitize the world economy “responsibly and inclusively.”

In a media question-and-answer session to launch the report, Al-Benyan said that among the top priorities for business leaders were the search for a vaccine against the virus that has killed more than half-a-million people around the world, and the need to reopen global trade routes slammed shut by economic lockdowns.

He said that the G20 response had been speedy and proactive, especially in comparison with the global financial crisis of 2009, but he said that more needed to be done, especially to face the possibility that the disease might surge again. “Now is not the time to celebrate,” he warned.

“Multilateral institutions and mechanisms must be positively leveraged by governments to serve their societies and must be enhanced wherever necessary during and after the pandemic,” he said, highlighting the role of the World Health Organization, the UN and the International Monetary Fund, which have come under attack from some world leaders during the pandemic.

Al-Benyan said that policy responses to the pandemic had been “designed according to each country’s requirements.”

Separately, the governor of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority said that it was “too early” to say if the Kingdom’s economy would experience a sharp “V-shape” recovery from pandemic recession.