COVID-19

OPEC, Russia discuss large oil supply cuts in “demand emergency”

Scott Tong Mar 4, 2020
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Joe Klamar/AFP/Getty Images
COVID-19

OPEC, Russia discuss large oil supply cuts in “demand emergency”

Scott Tong Mar 4, 2020
Joe Klamar/AFP/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Since the first outbreak of the new coronavirus, oil prices have fallen more than 20%.

Today at an OPEC meeting in Vienna there was talk that OPEC and Russia might together cut the world’s supply of oil by one million barrels a day. Prices rose. Then, the Russians walked out of the meeting. Prices fell.

That’s a familiar drama, according to Bob McNally, founder of Rapidan Energy Group.

“There’s the old expression in Washington,” he said. “Make ’em sad, make ’em glad. And I think what you saw today is with the Russians leaving the meeting is positioning to, maybe, surprise the market.” The surprise would be a bigger cut than expected, to bring prices up.

There is some evidence that energy use in China has bottomed out and is coming back. Ports are busy, traffic has returned and pollution levels have gone up.

“Now, that’s overall a bad thing for mankind,” said Florian Thaler, who heads the analytics company OilX. “But what we are looking for is whether the industrial activity has started to pick up. Indeed, there has been a soft improvement.”

But in the U.S., oil use is sagging. It could sag more, said analyst Jacques Rousseau at ClearView Energy Partners.

“If they start canceling sporting events and conferences and such, this starts to add into less transportation fuels that’ll be consumed — both gasoline and jet fuel,” he said.

For now, OPEC and Russia are focused on Friday, when they could have a deal to respond to what some are calling an oil demand emergency.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

Can businesses deny you entry if you don’t have a vaccine passport?

As more Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19 and the economy begins reopening, some businesses are requiring proof of vaccination to enter their premises. The concept of a vaccine passport has raised ethical questions about data privacy and potential discrimination against the unvaccinated. However, legal experts say businesses have the right to deny entrance to those who can’t show proof.

Give me a snapshot of the labor market in the U.S.

U.S. job openings in February increased more than expected, according to the Labor Department. Also, the economy added over 900,000 jobs in March. For all of the good jobs news recently, there are still nearly 10 million people who are out of work, and more than 4 million of them have been unemployed for six months or longer. “So we still have a very long way to go until we get a full recovery,” said Elise Gould with the Economic Policy Institute. She said the industries that have the furthest to go are the ones you’d expect: “leisure and hospitality, accommodations, food services, restaurants” and the public sector, especially in education.

What do I need to know about tax season this year?

Glad you asked! We have a whole separate FAQ section on that. Some quick hits: The deadline has been extended from April 15 to May 17 for individuals. Also, millions of people received unemployment benefits in 2020 — up to $10,200 of which will now be tax-free for those with an adjusted gross income of less than $150,000. And, for those who filed before the American Rescue Plan passed, simply put, you do not need to file an amended return at the moment. Find answers to the rest of your questions here.

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