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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The crude oil price recovery has hit the skids, a gloomy sign for U.S. producers, some of whom are risking bankruptcy.

What's happening: Oil prices are on track for their first weekly decline in well over a month, per Reuters.

  • Prices for WTI, the U.S. benchmark, are trading at roughly $36.45 this morning, about where they were late yesterday afternoon following two days of declines.
  • "Second wave coronavirus risks on crushing hopes for a steady global economic recovery that was spearheading prospects of improving crude demand," Oanda analyst Edward Moya said in a note yesterday.
  • He cited the "supply glut overhang and diminishing crude demand expectations."

The big picture: "The market has shrugged off a pledge by OPEC+ to extend record output cuts, with sentiment souring this week after the Federal Reserve warned of prolonged damage to the economy by the pandemic and U.S. inventories reached record highs," Bloomberg reports.

Threat level: Prices remain below what it typically takes for companies to drill new wells and in some cases even cover costs for operating existing wells (check out this Dallas Fed survey for a snapshot).

What's next: A Barclays note sees prices starting to rise again eventually, but expect continued near-term headwinds despite the demand revival and supply cuts.

  • They see the pace of the recovery slowing down after the sharp rise from April's troughs.
  • Their note projects U.S. prices averaging $34-per-barrel in the third quarter and $40-per-barrel in Q4, with continued increases throughout next year.

Go deeper: Coronavirus drives oil to a "rapid and brutal adjustment"

Go deeper

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
Sep 18, 2020 - Health

Hospital prices' steady rise

Data: Whaley, et al., 2020, "Nationwide Evaluation of Health Care Prices Paid by Private Health Plans"; Cartogram: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Employers and private insurers paid hospitals, on average, 247% of what Medicare paid for the same services in 2018, per a new RAND study.

Why it matters: We all pay for this giant gap in prices through our premiums and lost wages.

Trump pressures Barr to release so-called Durham report

Bill Barr. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

President Trump and his allies are piling extreme pressure on Attorney General Bill Barr to release a report that Trump believes could hurt perceived Obama-era enemies — and view Barr's designation of John Durham as special counsel as a stall tactic, sources familiar with the conversations tell Axios.

Why it matters: Speculation over Barr's fate grew on Tuesday, with just 49 days remaining in Trump's presidency, after Barr gave an interview to the Associated Press in which he said the Justice Department has not uncovered evidence of widespread fraud that could change the election's outcome.

CDC to cut guidance on quarantine period for coronavirus exposure

A health care worker oversees cars as people arrive to get tested for coronavirus at a testing site in Arlington, Virginia, on Tuesday. Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

The CDC will soon shorten its guidance for quarantine periods following exposure to COVID-19, AP reported Tuesday and Axios can confirm.

Why it matters: Quarantine helps prevent the spread of the coronavirus, which can occur before a person knows they're sick or if they're infected without feeling any symptoms. The current recommended period to stay home if exposed to the virus is 14 days. The CDC plans to amend this to 10 days or seven with a negative test, an official told Axios.

  • The CDC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.