Stock market euphoria, which is also expressed by a global dollar dump, does not resonate with crude oil: WTI trades in a narrowing range around the $23 mark, remaining unimpressed by the dollar weakness and rebound in risk assets:

Such a pattern usually precedes a strong move and there are some reasons to expect the market to lose its temper. Government actions around the world are increasingly saying that countries are making bets on the experience of Wuhan in suppression of the outbreak – organizing home quarantine for at least two weeks. This is accompanied by serious short-term economic losses, including a drop in demand for fuel and a decrease in manufacturing and production activity because of forced decreased labor supply. This week the second most populated country in the world and the largest oil consumer, India, announced a 21-day full quarantine, which is likely to force experts to revise consumption forecast even more to the downside.

Data on Thursday showed that the number of initial unemployment claims in the US rose to a significant 3.3M. The response of the stock market showed that the downside surprise was quickly absorbed. The number of confirmed cases worldwide increased by 13.43% on Thursday compared with the previous day after several days of consistent decrease in the growth rate:

The head of the IEA Fatih Birol said that global oil demand is now “in a free fall”, and the glut is deepening due to the price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia. According to him, 3 billion people are locked down, as a result, oil demand may fall by 20 million barrels per day (almost 20%). Goldman gave similar depressing figures for March and April (10.5M b/d and 18.7M b/d) and it is clear that bigger and longer lockdowns should shave off more near-term consumption demand. That’s why “updated” EIA forecasts offer even gloomier view. In the near-term prices may be supported by the decision of the US government to restart economy earlier as Trump promised. Rumors about the move should be kept on the radar.

Oil trader Vitol Group expects that demand drop will accelerate over the next three months and will not fully recover this year.

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