Covid Infection Headlines Again Scare Traders Despite Strong Demand, Job Figures

by Ship & Bunker News Team
Tuesday July 7, 2020

In a repeat of the previous session's performance, a forecast of higher demand and bullish job figures failed to keep worries of spiking coronavirus infections at bay, which in turn caused crude prices on Tuesday to dip slightly.

Ironically, the declines came amid several bombshell revelations about the virus - virtually ignored by the mainstream news media - including data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showing that Covid-19 is approaching the threshold for dipping below the level of an epidemic.

Brent on Tuesday settled at $43.08 per barrel, down 2 cents, while West Texas Intermediate settled down 1 cent at $40.62 per barrel.

Earlier in the session, the U.S. Energy Information Administration forecast that global oil demand would recover through the end of 2021 to the tune of 101.1 million barrels per day (bpd) by the fourth quarter of next year; EIA administrator Linda Capuano said, "Global oil demand continues to recover faster than previously estimated."

More encouraging news was delivered by the U.S. Labour Department's Job Openings and Labour Turnover survey for May, which showed the largest-ever monthly gain for hiring.

Even in Canada, whose energy sector had been the focus of dismal news in the previous session, reports on Tuesday were of embattled oil companies holding spending at reduced levels in order to maximize the potential gains of higher oil prices; additionally, Imperial Oil Ltd. predicted demand for refined products such as gasoline improving through 2020, along with utilization of refineries.

If that wasn't enough, sources told media on Tuesday that Abu Dhabi National Oil Company plans to boost its oil exports in August by as much as 300,000 bpd - the first signal that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is preparing to ease record oil output cuts due to the rebound in demand following easement of government-mandated coronavirus lockdowns.

But crude traders were apparently swayed once more by mainstream news media's relentless coverage of rising coronavirus infections in the U.S. and other parts of the world - coverage that continues to be at the expense of virus-related news that would normally be considered revelatory to the trading and analytical communities.

Case in point: the CDC stated that the Covid death rate had, during the last week in June, become equal to the epidemic threshold of 5.9 percent, reaching its lowest point since the end of last year: given that the threshold death rate for Covid and diseases such as influenza and pneumonia ranges typically from 5 to 7 percent at the height of flu season, this means Covid is approaching the threshold for dipping below the level of an epidemic (which the CDC defines as an outbreak from which the number of deaths per week exceeds a given percentage of total deaths within the nation).

Despite the U.S. reaching its highest single-day surge of new Covid cases in recent weeks, the death rate continues to remain stagnant.

Another revelation came on Tuesday about the duplicitous manner in which Covid is being reported by health authorities and media: Dr. Scott Atlas, senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, said an in-depth study of the most recent Covid data revealed that while U.S. hospitals have indeed become more crowded in recent weeks, "That's mainly due to the re-installation of medical care for non Covid-19 patients."

Using Texas as an example, he said 90 percent of ICU beds are occupied, "But only 15 percent are Covid patients; I think we have to look at the data and be aware that it doesn't matter if younger, healthier people get infected, I don't know how often that has to be said, they have nearly zero risk of a problem from this.

"The only thing that counts are the older, more vulnerable people getting infected, and there's no evidence that they really are."

As for the motivation for the press and health officials to portray the virus in the most destructive light as possible, many pundits say in the U.S. it boils down to politics and predict the alarmist headlines will continue right up until the November presidential elections.