Oil prices rally further on vaccine optimism

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    TOKYO- Oil rose for a fourth straight day on Wednesday, shrugging off an industry report showing a higher-than-unexpected rise in US crude stockpiles and extending a rally driven by hopes that a COVID-19 vaccine will boost fuel demand.

    Brent crude was up 54 cents, or 1.1 percent, at $48.40 a barrel, having risen almost 4 percent in the previous session. West Texas Intermediate crude gained 47 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $45.38 a barrel, after rising more than 4 percent on Tuesday.

    Both contracts are at their highest since early March and have rallied nearly 10 percent in the last four days.

    “The broader market is in derisk mode as we now have three effective vaccines that can combat the virus,” said Kevin Solomon, energy economic analyst at StoneX.

    AstraZeneca said on Monday its COVID-19 vaccine was 70 percent effective in trials and could be up to 90 percent effective, providing another weapon in the fight to control the pandemic after positive results from other major pharmaceutical developers.

    However, any viable vaccine is not likely to be ready for mass use in the next few months, meaning lockdowns and travel restrictions will be in place into next year.

    That makes it likely that OPEC+, which groups the Organization of the Petroleum Export Countries (OPEC) and allies including Russia, will continue production cuts into 2021 after a meeting set to start on Nov. 30 following technical talks this week.