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Oil Price Nears $50 After OPEC, Russia Agree Supply Boost

Oil prices hit the highest level since early March after major producers agreed to a cautious increase in output that eased fears of oversupply.

Brent crude, the international benchmark, rose 0.5 percent to $48.94 a barrel, slipping in New York trading after hitting a high of $49.92 earlier in the day. US marker West Texas Intermediate climbed 0.5 percent to $45.86.

On Thursday evening, Russia and OPEC forged an agreement to boost oil supply by 500,000 barrels a day from January, which was a quarter of what they had agreed to previously.

“The oil price is being supported by technical factors” such as the supply agreement and a weaker US dollar, said Monica Defend, head of research at fund manager Amundi.

“Developed markets remain in the grip of the second wave of the pandemic, and this is reflected in poor demand for travel,” she cautioned.

“We do not expect to see oil at $55 until the second half of next year, on the basis that [coronavirus] vaccines can be widely distributed and airplanes are back in the sky.”

A weaker dollar boosts crude prices because it makes it cheaper for holders of other currencies to purchase the commodity. But expectations of an oil price recovery after the pandemic vary widely, with Opec bullish on consumption while forecasts from oil producers and airlines suggest a peak in demand is close.

The dollar index, which measures the buck against trading partners’ currencies, was flat on Friday morning, hovering around a two and a half year low.

Source: FT

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