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Crude oil futures jump on improved economic climate, pandemic situation

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Crude oil futures jump on improved economic climate, pandemic situation

New York — 0310 GMT: Crude oil futures remained on an upward trajectory during mid-morning trade in Asia Feb. 23, extending overnight gains, as a weaker US dollar, inflation expectations and the improving coronavirus situation encouraged investors to pour money into the market.

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At 11:10 am Singapore time (0310 GMT), the ICE Brent April contract was up by $1.21/b (1.85%) from the Feb. 22 settle to $66.45/b, while the April NYMEX light sweet crude contract was up by $1/b (1.62%) to $62.70/b.

Market analysts said the rise in crude futures during the Asian morning was driven by macroeconomic factors and by increased optimism that a global vaccination drive will help to reign in the pandemic.

"Expectations of higher inflation have led to an inflow of money into oil, which is viewed as a hedge for inflation. The improved economic picture is also driving some dollar weakness, which is spurring oil trading as well," Pan Jingyi, senior market analyst at IG told S&P Global Platts Feb. 23.

Pan was among analysts who said the demand outlook for oil has improved as the pandemic has eased, and that the global vaccine roll-out has inspired further confidence in the market.

"There is far more optimism than fear dotting the landscape today with vaccines showing scientific results that validate efficacy and effectiveness, suggesting that vaccination will lead society back to normality in various phases, but quicker than expected only a month ago," Stephen Innes, chief global market strategist at Axi said in a Feb. 23 note.

While the demand outlook for oil has brightened, supply still remains constrained in the aftermath of the severe weather across the southern US states, which at its peak had shuttered up to 4 million b/d of crude output. Platts reported on Feb. 22 that 600,000 b/d of crude output remains offline.

"While the power crisis in Texas is easing, a surge in US shale oil looks unlikely...the extent of damage to pipes and wellheads is as yet unknown. Even so, the lack of investment in capital expenditure is likely to keep any growth in output limited this year," ANZ analysts said in a Feb. 23 note.

On account of last week's US production shut-ins, commercial crude stocks in the country are expected to have declined 4.8 million barrels to around 457 million barrels last week, analysts surveyed by Platts said.

The weekly inventory reports from the American Petroleum Institute and the EIA, are due to be released later Feb. 23 and Feb. 24, respectively.