Oil rally boosted by vaccine optimism

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    TOKYO- Oil rose for a fifth day on Thursday after a surprise fall in US crude inventories gave further legs to a rally driven by optimism that vaccines will end the coronavirus pandemic and revive demand for fuels.

    Brent futures were up 45 cents, or 0.9 percent, at $49.06 a barrel, after rising around 1.6 percent in the previous session. West Texas Intermediate crude was up by 34 cents, or 0.7 percent, at $46.05 a barrel, having gained 1.8 percent on Wednesday.

    Both benchmarks have risen about 9 percent this week, getting a boost after AstraZeneca said on Monday its COVID-19 vaccine could be up to 90 percent effective, adding to the potential armory to end the worst pandemic in a century.

    Encouraging vaccine results are “pushing aside concerns of enduring containment measures and prompting some follow-through buying from the speculative community,” Citigroup Global Markets said in a note.

    Still, it warned that “a pullback cannot be ruled out amid less robust demand in the near term.”