Aug 4, 2017

Analysts: U.S. shale will suppress oil prices through at least 2019

AP / LM Otero

Oil prices — more or less flat for 15 months — will stay in their current band through the end of the year and only start to bump up against $60 a barrel in 2019, per the Wall Street Journal, placing tremendous sustained and perhaps mortal pressure on oil companies and petro-state governments.

Jobs update: The pressure is also on workers: employment in U.S. oilfields fell slightly last month from June, continuing a year-long trend, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Employment fell by 700 month to month, and is down by about 1,600 over the year.

According to a poll of 15 investment banks conducted by the newspaper, Brent crude — the internationally traded benchmark — will average $53 a barrel this year, and rise to $55 in 2018; for both years, that is $2 lower than they said a month ago. In 2019, Brent will average $59.60, they said.

An American cap on prices: The main culprit for all of this: U.S. shale drillers, who are finding their oil cheaper and cheaper to produce, cutting costs and conducting only subdued rehiring of workers laid off in the hundreds of thousands over since 2015.So that every time oil prices go up, they produce more, which then pushes prices back down.

Why it matters: Motorists can expect a long additional period of low gasoline and diesel prices. But the pressure will remain on oil companies and petro-states, which have already suffered through two and a half years of low prices that have ravaged balance sheets. Venezuela, for one, has appeared to be on the brink of economic collapse for months.

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Coronavirus dashboard

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  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 5 p.m. ET: 65,691 — Total deaths: 30,438 — Total recoveries: 139,263.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 5 p.m. ET: 119,748 — Total deaths: 1,991 — Total recoveries: 921.
  3. Federal government latest: President Trump is considering a quarantine on New York, parts of New Jersey and Connecticut. He signed a $2 trillion stimulus bill to give businesses and U.S. workers financial relief.
  4. State updates: Alaska is latest state to issue a stay-at-home order — New York is trying to nearly triple its hospital capacity in less than a month and has moved its presidential primary to June 23. Some Midwestern swing voters that supported Trump's handling of the virus less than two weeks ago are now balking at his call for the U.S. to be "opened up" by Easter.
  5. World updates: In Spain, over 1,400 people were confirmed dead between Thursday to Saturday.
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Infant dies after testing positive for coronavirus in Chicago

Hospital staff working inside a COVID-19 screening tent in Chicago on March 26. Photo: Jim Vondruska/NurPhoto via Getty Images

An infant less than one year old died in Chicago, Illinois after testing positive for the novel coronavirus, the state health department said on Saturday.

Why it matters: The death would mark the first reported infant mortality from COVID-19 in the U.S. The fatality rate for the novel coronavirus in the U.S. is highest among those over 85 years old, per the CDC.

Trump weighs quarantine of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

President Trump said on Saturday he is considering a "short term" quarantine of New York, New Jersey and parts of Connecticut — states that have already taken steps to quarantine residents and promote social distancing.

The big picture: With 112,000 people infected, the U.S. has the most COVID-19 cases in the world, exceeding China and Italy, per data from Johns Hopkins. A second wave of American cities, including Boston, Detroit, New Orleans and Philadelphia, are reporting influxes of cases.

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