Riyadh: Oil rose after Saudi Arabia boosted the prices of its crude, signalling confidence in the demand outlook despite the spread of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.
Futures in New York advanced more than 2 per cent to trade near $68 a barrel. The Kingdom increased its oil prices for customers in Asia and the US for January, just days after the OPEC+ alliance agreed to boost output for the same month. Meanwhile, initial data on Omicron from South Africa doesn’t show a resulting surge of hospitalisations.
Oil capped a sixth weekly loss on Friday, the longest stretch of declines since 2018, following concerns about the outlook for energy demand as omicron led to renewed restrictions on travel. While OPEC+ decided to keep adding extra barrels to the market in January, the alliance essentially placed a floor under prices by giving itself the option to change the plan at short notice.
“The Saudi move to increase pricing is driving the market today,” said Warren Patterson, Singapore-based head of commodities strategy at ING Groep NV. “A bit of an odd move, given the supply hike in January, the Omicron uncertainty and the expectation of a better supplied market in the first quarter of 2022.”