Oil falls below $43 a barrel on coronavirus fears

A resurgence of coronavirus cases worldwide has brought down oil prices to below $43 a barrel on Friday amid concern that fuel demand growth could stall. (AFP file photo)
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Updated 04 July 2020

Oil falls below $43 a barrel on coronavirus fears

  • Brent has more than doubled from a 21-year low below $16 reached in April

LONDON: Oil fell below $43 a barrel on Friday as a resurgence of coronavirus cases raised concern that fuel demand growth could stall, although crude was still headed for a weekly gain on lower supply and wider signs of economic recovery.

The US reported more than 55,000 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, a new daily global record for the pandemic. The rise in cases suggested US jobs growth, which jumped in June, could suffer a setback.

“If this trend continues, oil demand in the region is at risk,” said Louise Dickson of Rystad Energy.

Brent crude was down 56 cents, or 1.3 percent, at $42.58 a barrel in early afternoon trade in London and US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude fell 58 cents, or 1.4 percent, to $40.07.

“The fragile US economic rebound is at risk of being undone by the latest surge in new infections,” said Stephen Brennock of oil broker PVM.

Signs of economic recovery, and a drop in supply after a record supply cut by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies, known as OPEC+, have helped Brent more than double from a 21-year low below $16 reached in April.

Boosting recovery hopes, a private survey showed on Friday that China’s services sector expanded at the fastest pace in over a decade in June.

OPEC oil production fell to its lowest in decades in June and Russian production has dropped to near its OPEC+ target.

The bankruptcy filing of US shale pioneer Chesapeake Energy also supported prices by raising expectations production will decline, JBC Energy said in a report.

Gasoline demand will be closely watched as the US heads into the July 4 holiday weekend. 


Thailand finance minister: economy to recover next year with 4% growth

Updated 23 November 2020

Thailand finance minister: economy to recover next year with 4% growth

  • Economy had bottomed but recovery was not fast as the battered tourism sector hurt supply chains
  • Budget for the next fiscal year will still focus on boosting domestic activity

BANGKOK: Thailand’s economy is expected to grow 4 percent in 2021 after a slump this year and fiscal policy will support a tourism-reliant economy struggling from the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, the finance minister said on Monday.
Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy shrank a less than expected 6.4 percent in the third quarter from a year earlier after falling 12.1 percent in the previous three months.
The economy had bottomed but recovery was not fast as the battered tourism sector, which accounts for about 12 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), has also hurt supply chains, Finance minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said.
“Without the COVID, our economy could have expanded 3 percent this year, he said. “As we expect a 6 percent contraction this year, there is the output gap of 9 percent,” he told a business forum.
“Next year, we expect 4 percent growth, which is still not 100 percent yet,” Arkhom said, adding it could take until 2022 to return to pre-pandemic levels.
There is still fiscal policy room to help growth from this year’s fiscal budget and some from rehabilitation spending, he said.
The budget for the next fiscal year will still focus on boosting domestic activity, Arkhom said, and the current public debt of 49 percent of GDP was manageable.
Of the government’s 1 trillion baht ($33 billion) borrowing plan, 400 billion would be for economic revival, of which about 120 billion-130 billion has been approved, Arkhom said.
He wants the Bank of Thailand to take more action short term on the baht, which continued to rise on Monday, despite central bank measures announced on Friday to rein in the currency strength.
“They have done that and they have their measures... which should be introduced gradually and more intensely,” Arkhom said.