Photo: Mandel Ngan//AFP via Getty Images

Oil prices surged Thursday after President Trump tweeted that Saudi Arabia and Russia were preparing to jointly cut oil production, but then gave back much of the gain as neither country offered confirmation of his claims.

But, but, but: Saudi Arabia said in a statement it's calling for an "urgent meeting" of the OPEC+ and a group of other countries, including Russia.

What's new: The Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed Saudi officials, reported Thursday afternoon that the country is "willing to consider massive oil-supply curbs as long as other nations join the effort."

Why it matters: The collapse of the joint OPEC-Russia supply-limiting pact and Saudi plans to boost output have been putting downward pressure on prices, which are already under severe strain because the novel coronavirus outbreak is causing a historic drop in demand.

Expand chart
Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

Driving the news: Trump tweeted mid-morning that he's expecting Saudi Arabia and Russia — the world's largest producers after the U.S. — to cut production by a total of 10 million–15 million barrels per day.

  • Trump said he'd spoken with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and that MBS had spoken with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
  • Trump noted the moves would be "great for the oil and gas industry."

But, but, but: That would be an extraordinary amount of production to cut, vastly in excess of prior supply curbs by the alliance of OPEC, Russia and some other producers known as OPEC+.

And neither the Saudis nor Russians offered confirmation.

  • The Saudi state press agency said the kingdom was "calling for urgent meeting of OPEC + and a group of other countries, with the aim of seeking a fair agreement that will restore the desired balance to the oil markets."
  • And per the Russian news agency Sputnik, "Russia said it had not started energy talks with Saudi Arabia and no talks between the countries' leaders were scheduled for Friday." Their report also says a Kremlin spokesperson "refuted" Trump's claims about a talk between Putin and MBS.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 19,648,084 — Total deaths: 727,024 — Total recoveries — 11,941,723Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 4,998,105 — Total deaths: 162,425 — Total recoveries: 1,643,118 — Total tests: 61,080,587Map.
  3. Politics: Trump signs 4 executive actions on coronavirus aid — Democrats, and some Republicans, criticize the move
  4. Public health: Fauci says chances are "not great" that COVID-19 vaccine will be 98% effective — 1 in 3 Americans would decline COVID-19 vaccine.
  5. Science: Indoor air is the next coronavirus frontline.
  6. Schools: How back-to-school is playing out in the South as coronavirus rages on — Princeton, Johns Hopkins, Howard to hold fall classes online.
Updated 3 hours ago - World

Brazil coronavirus death toll tops 100,000 and case numbers surpass 3 million

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro posted a photo of himself to Facebook congratulating his soccer team, Palmeiras, for winning the state title Saturday, moments after the health ministry confirmed the national COVID-19 death toll had surpassed 100,000.

Why it matters: Brazil is only the second country to confirm more than 100,000 deaths from the coronavirus. On Sunday morning, it became the second country to surpass 3 million cases, per Johns Hopkins. Only the U.S. has reported more. Bolsonaro has yet to address the milestones. He has previously tested positive for COVID-19 three times, but he's downplayed the impact of the virus, which has crippled Brazil's economy.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with the latest coronavirus case numbers and more context.

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Republicans and Democrats react to Trump's coronavirus aid action

President Trump speaks to workers at a manufacturing facility in Clyde, Ohio, on Thursday. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Some Republicans joined Democrats in criticizing President Trump Saturday night for taking executive action on coronavirus aid, with Democratic leaders demanding the GOP return to negotiations after stimulus package talks broke down a day earlier.

Why it matters: Trump could face legal challenges on his ability to act without congressional approval, where the constitutional power lies on federal spending. Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) was the most vocal Republican critic, saying in a statement: "The pen-and-phone theory of executive lawmaking is unconstitutional slop."