Covid trepidation: The travel and tourism sectors would unlikely revert to pre-Covid levels before 2023, according to TA Securities. — AFP PETALING JAYA: Global crude oil prices slipped as a new strain of Covid-19 in the UK cast a pall over the global economic recovery, despite the national vaccine roll-out in the country. The international benchmark Brent crude oil fell US$1.74 or 3.3% to US$50.52 per barrel yesterday after it rose to its highest level since March last Friday. Global crude oil prices have been on a seven-week rally following the news of Covid-19 vaccines roll-out. Despite the volatility in the oil prices, TA Securities opined that the “downside in oil prices is cushioned by bullish sentiment.” This is on the back of traction in vaccine deployment that alludes to looming economic recovery. “Furthermore, the former is accelerating at an exuberant pace. Thus, oil fundamentals may catch up sooner-than-expected. “Economic recovery will rejuvenate demand for crude oil and natural gas, including its derivatives as well as transportation fuels and petrochemicals, ” it said in a report yesterday. Last week, Goldman Sachs’ commodities chief Jeffrey Currie told CNBC that he expected Brent to average US$65 a barrel next year driven by mass vaccinations and under-investment in the oil and gas sector. Meanwhile, commodity trading giant Trafigura expected a strong rebound in oil demand in 2021 thanks to mass vaccinations, which will push crude oil prices to US$55 to US$60 a barrel. It was reported that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was to chair an emergency response meeting to discuss a growing number of international flights to the country which were blocked following a new Covid-19 strain in the UK. The Netherlands, Belgium, France, Canada, Sweden, Saudi Arabia have halted flights to the UK due to the “highly-infectious” strain. Following the latest resurgence of cases, analysts expected global oil demand to remain weak in the near term as the global Covid-19 cases continue to rise, prolonging the ongoing lockdowns in large parts of the eurozone and the United States. This will lead to a spillover effect in the first half of 2021. “The supply-demand fundamentals for crude would remain fragile in the near-to-medium term, ” TA Securities said, pointing out that it is still early to predict the timing when the pandemic would be fully-resolved and economic recovery kicks in. “The International Energy Agency believes it will take several months before a critical mass of vaccinations is achieved to impact oil demand, ” it pointed out. On the bright side, it said Opec expected Covid-19 cases to ease in the second half of next year, following wide availability of vaccines. “Furthermore, the advancements in Covid-19 treatment will support consumer confidence and hence economic recovery and rise in oil demand, ” it said. However, it reckoned that activity in the travel and tourism sectors would unlikely revert to pre-Covid levels before 2023.
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