Oil rebounds on Trump health update, Norway shutdowns

Dust blows around a crude oil pump jack and flare burning excess gas at a drill pad in the Permian Basin in Loving County, Texas, U.S.

Oil prices rose on Monday, lifted by comments from doctors for U.S. President Donald Trump suggesting he could be discharged from hospital as soon as Monday, just a few days after his positive coronavirus test sparked widespread alarm.

Brent was up 98 cents, or 2.5%, to $40.25 a barrel by 0849 GMT. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude was $1.09, or 2.9%, higher at $38.14 a barrel.

“This bout of strength is unlikely to have the legs to withstand the growing pile of unknowns. After all, the oil market is trapped in an unending cycle of uncertainty,” said Stephen Brennock of oil broker PVM.

U.S. elections in less than a month, the prospect of renewed lockdowns in several cities worldwide as coronavirus cases rise, and the fate of a U.S. stimulus package to counter the economic impact of the pandemic are all affecting the oil market.

Prices slumped more than 4% on Friday following Trump’s diagnosis. However, he made a surprise appearance on Sunday in a motorcade outside the hospital where he is being treated, which helped improve market sentiment.

According to his doctors, he could be discharged from hospital later on Monday.

Oil was also supported by an escalating workers’ strike in Norway. Energy major Equinor shut four of its offshore oil and gas fields on Monday as its workers expanded their strike, a company spokesman told us.

Two more fields operated by Neptune Energy and Wintershall Dea also face likely shutdowns on Monday because of the strike, the Norwegian Oil and Gas Association (NOG) has said.

Meanwhile recent price rises have prompted some U.S. producers to resume drilling. U.S. energy firms this week added oil and natural gas rigs for a third week in a row for the first time since October 2018, data from Baker Hughes showed on Friday.

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