Oil Prices Fluctuate as Virus-battered Market Reacts to Stimulus Efforts
Oil prices were mixed on Friday as policymakers around the world pledge to stimulate the global economy hit hard by the spread of the novel coronavirus. Brent crude, selling at $25.94 per barrel, was down 1.5% as of 9:22 GMT. It has dropped in price for five weeks in a row. US crude, however, was up 0.5%, at $22.71. Demand for oil has plummeted as the world’s economy goes into a major slump due to the severe curtailment of economic activity required to limit the virus’s spread. Demand could drop by as much as 20% as 3 billion people go into lockdown, according to the head of the International Energy Agency, Fatih Birol. Leaders of the G20 group of major economies pledged on Thursday to inject more than $5 trillion into the global economy to limit job and income losses from the coronavirus and “do whatever it takes to overcome the pandemic,” which has infected more than 540,000 people, resulting in 24,369 deaths to date. Without the extreme measures taken by governments around the world, the death toll could be in the millions, health experts say. The US Congress is expected to pass a $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill on Friday or Saturday. With 85,749 infections and 1,304 deaths, the United States is now the new global epicenter of the pandemic.