SINGAPORE – Oil prices rose about 2 percent on Monday, lifted by comments from doctors for US President Donald Trump suggesting he could be discharged from hospital as soon as Monday, just a few days after his positive test for COVID-19 sparked widespread alarm.
Trump’s health update eased political uncertainty in global markets, pushing Brent up to $39.96 a barrel, gaining 69 cents or 1.8 percent. US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude was at $37.81 a barrel, up 76 cents, or 2.1 percent.
Prices had slumped more than 4 percent on Friday amid uncertainty surrounding Trump’s health, adding to concern that rising coronavirus case numbers that could dampen global economic recovery.
But analysts said Monday’s rebound was driven by an easing of the worst fears about Trump’s health condition, albeit clouded by some mixed signals.
“I think it’s the improving health of the US President … over the weekend there were a lot of conflicting reports on his health, but generally he’s improving,” said Avtar Sandu, senior commodities manager at Phillip Futures.
“He could be back to work soon,” Sandu said, adding that investors were worried about the stalled US fiscal stimulus plan which could aid oil demand recovery.
Prices were also supported by an expanding workers’ strike in Norway on Monday that could reduce the country’s production capacity by as much as 330,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd) or 8 percent of its total output, according to the Norwegian Oil and Gas Association.