Hopes of a working vaccine for COVID-19 have propelled oil prices to a two month high.
Crude futures (CL=F) climbed to their highest level since the start of September on Wednesday, while Brent futures (BZ=F) were also at a multi-month high. Crude was up 3.2% to $42.67 per barrel by lunchtime in London, while Brent was 2.9% higher at $44.87 per barrel.
Oil prices were being driven higher by hopes that Pfizer (PFE) and BioNTech’s (BNTX) potential COVID-19 vaccine could herald a return to something like normality. That, in turn, could lead to a pick up in demand for oil.
Pfizer said on Monday that its vaccine candidate induced an immune response in 90% of cases. Health officials in the UK and US have talked about rolling it out as soon as next month.
Hopes of an imminent vaccine are supporting hopes of a pick-up in global travel, one of the biggest consumers of oil.
“Traders anticipate a return in demand for the months ahead,” said Josh Mahony, a senior market analyst at IG. “With a vaccine on the horizon, the prospect of global travel picking up bolsters sentiment around energy prices.”
Brent has now rallied 10% since Monday and crude futures have gained 11.5%. Marios Hadjikyriacos, and investment analyst at XM, called it a “relentless rally”.
However, Jon Rigby, an oil analyst with UBS, said the full impact of the vaccine on oil demand was likely still a ways off.
“In reality, this is more about normalising economic activity and mobility through 2021 and 2022, and hence the near-term market is less impacted than, say, the upcoming decisions by OPEC+ on quotas or the level of lockdowns needed in northern hemisphere economies through the approaching winter,” Rigby and his team wrote in a note.
While oil prices have rallied in recent days, prices are still around a third below where they were at the start of the year.
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