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Expand chart
Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

Oil prices have rallied sharply in recent days, but the market remains depressed and the gains are too small and too late to prevent deep pain for the industry.

Why it matters: The general upward trend of late is nonetheless a sign that the worst of the pandemic-fueled collapse in prices and demand — which is stressing oil storage capacity — may be over.

Driving the news: Futures prices for West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark, have essentially doubled since early last week and are trading around $23.29 this morning. Brent crude also gained, trading around $30.31.

Threat level: They're also giving back some of those gains this morning, underscoring the tumult and risk.

What they're saying: "These moves have been encouraging but there may be a few more fireworks yet unless we see evidence that near-term surpluses are shrinking," OANDA analyst Craig Erlam said in a note Wednesday.

But, but, but: Prices are still at a level that creates financial jeopardy for many producers and other segments of the industry, and companies are being forced to cut production.

More signs of the toll emerged Tuesday.

  • Big U.S. producer Occidental Petroleum reported a $2.2 billion first-quarter loss and announced further cuts in capital spending.
  • Refining giant Marathon Petroleum posted a $9.2 billion quarterly net loss as it took a $12.4 billion impairment charge. FT has more.

Go deeper

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
Aug 12, 2020 - Economy & Business

U.S. producer prices rose last month by the most since October 2018

Data: U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Axios Visuals

U.S. producer prices rose by the most since October 2018 last month, following a 0.2% decline in June.

Details: U.S. PPI for final demand, a measurement of prices paid by businesses, increased 0.6% last month, driven by a surge in portfolio management fees and the rising cost of gasoline.

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
Aug 12, 2020 - Economy & Business

Gold had its worst day in 7 years, but investors remain bullish

Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

Gold fell by 2% on Tuesday with some ETFs seeing prices decline by 5% or more as investors took profits on the precious metal after a rally that has pushed gold to record highs near $2,100 per troy ounce.

Why it matters: It was the third straight session that gold fell, the longest losing streak since June, after seven days of appreciation, and the worst selloff since 2013.

Fight over Putin's pipeline consumes Congress

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Biden administration, House and Senate Democrats and even the German government are engaged in a multi-pronged effort to stop Congress from imposing mandatory sanctions on a Kremlin-backed natural gas pipeline.

Why it matters: President Biden's decision to let Nord Stream 2 proceed has put his allies in an uncomfortable bind. Republicans have already blocked dozens of Biden's foreign-policy nominees, and the dispute threatened to derail an annual defense bill passed by Congress every year for six decades.

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