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  • WTI trades with decent gains on Tuesday as markets focus on vaccine and fiscal stimulus optimism.
  • Front-month WTI futures matched last week’s post-pandemic highs at $47.72 to the tick earlier on in the session.

Front-month WTI futures have traded on the front foot this Tuesday, with prices grinding higher throughout the day from below $47.00 during Asia Pacific hours to current levels not far below daily highs set recently at $47.72. Indeed, Tuesday’s high matched WTI’s post-pandemic high set last Thursday to the tick.

Crude oil markets shrug off near-term demand risks

With Covid-19 cases on the rise in Europe and the US still, the near-term risks to crude oil demand are growing. Indeed, on Tuesday, the Italian PM said that it would be necessary to adopt additional Covid-19 restrictions over the coming weeks to avoid a third wave, putting Italy on course to join the likes of Germany and the Netherlands in imposing harsher lockdown restrictions that will reduce European fuel demand over the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, momentum behind the idea that New York City might be headed for lockdown is growing, with NBC reporting that the City Mayor had pitched a “pause like” shutdown after Christmas as numbers trend in the “wrong direction”, though this call would be up to New York State’s Governor.

Elsewhere, the latest International Energy Agency monthly oil market report saw the agency cut its 2020 and 2021 global oil demand forecasts by 50K and 170K barrels per day, following in the footsteps of the recently released monthly reports from OPEC and the US Energy Information Administration, with the report directly citing a drop in European demand amid the continents slide back into lockdown. Unsurprisingly, the report also played down the positive impact on oil markets that the start of mass vaccinations will have over the coming months, given that herd immunity and a return to normal life is unlikely to take place much before H2 2021.

But none of the developments outlined above appear to have dampened crude’s mood thus far this Tuesday. Indeed, oil markets have been seeing upside, with analysts citing the usual cocktail of bullish catalysts such as stimulus hopes and vaccine optimism.

“There’s a lot of bullish sentiment that’s seeped its way into the oil market with the rollout of the vaccine,” said John Kilduff, a partner at Again Capital LLC partner John Kilduff told Bloomberg News, adding that “if we get a fiscal aid package out of Washington, that would bolster markets even more across the board.”

US Stimulus Talks and Vaccine latest…

Starting with the latest US stimulus news; late on Monday, the Bipartisan group of US lawmakers announced the details of their latest two-part proposal, which was split into a $748B package containing the aspects of aid that both the Republicans and Democrats can agree on, including a $300 per week extension to unemployment insurance benefits, as well as a separate $160B package containing state/city aid plus liability protections (the aspects where the two major US parties cannot agree).

Neither the Democrats nor Republicans have signalled that they are willing to back the bipartisan proposal just yet, but US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (leader of the Democrat’s majority in the House) has invited Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as well as the House and Senate Minority Leaders Chuck Schumer and Kevin McCarthy to discuss finalising government funding and Covid-19 relief at 21:00GMT.

Turning to the latest vaccine news, the European Medical Agency will reportedly decide on the approval of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine on 21 December, and it was separately reported that, if approved, vaccinations could begin on the continent prior by 26 December. Note, the EU will be expected to approve the vaccine given it has already been given the green light in the UK and US.

There were also some positive updates regarding the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine’s path to FDA approval; the FDA published its briefing documents for the vaccine and concluded that the vaccine is 94.1% effective (as claimed by Moderna), that Moderna’s data does support a favourable safety profile and no specific safety concerns had been identified that would preclude emergency use authorisation.