Brent hits highest since March, spurred by COVID-19 vaccine hopes

An oil well pump jack is seen at an oil field supply yard near Denver, Colorado, U.S., February 2, 2015. (Reuters)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Brent crude prices hit their highest levels since March as news of a third promising coronavirus vaccine candidate spurred hopes of a quicker recovery in oil demand.

Brent crude features rose 52 cents, or 1.13%, to $46.58 a barrel by 0601 GMT, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude added 45 cents, or 1.1%, to $43.61 a barrel.

Brent rose to a session high of $46.56 on Tuesday, the highest level traded since early March before Saudi Arabia initiated a price war with Russia, which sent oil prices crashing.

“Progress on developing and distributing a vaccine de-risks the path back to normal for oil markets,” Reuters cited Stephen Innes, chief global markets strategist at financial services firm Axi, as saying.

AstraZeneca said on Monday that its COVID-19 vaccine was 70% effective in pivotal trials and could be up to 90% effective, giving the world’s fight against the global pandemic a third new weapon that can be cheaper to make, easier to distribute and faster to scale-up than rivals.

Also helping to ease uncertainty in financial markets, U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday allowed officials to proceed with a transition to Joe Biden’s incoming administration, giving his rival access to briefings and funding even as he vowed to persist with efforts to fight the election results.

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