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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

GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley announces run for re-election

Photo: Greg Nash/The Hill/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the longest-serving Senate Republican, announced on Friday that he's running for re-election in 2022.

Why it matters: The GOP is looking to regain control of both chambers of Congress in the upcoming midterm elections. Several Republicans had urged the 88-year-old senator to run to avoid another retirement after five incumbent senators said they wouldn't seek re-election.

China deems all cryptocurrency transactions illegal

A person walking past China's central bank in Beijing in August 2007. Photo: Teh Eng Koon/AFP via Getty Images

China's central bank declared on Friday that all cryptocurrencies are illegal, banning crypto-related transactions and cryptocurrency mining, according to Reuters.

Why it matters: China's government is now following through with its goal of cracking down on unofficial virtual currencies, which it has said are a financial, social and national security risk and a contributor to global warming.

Biden's big bet backfires

Two key dealmakers — Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) — leave a luncheon in the Capitol yesterday. Photo: Kent Nishimura/L.A. Times via Getty Images

President Biden bit off too much, too fast in trying to ram through what would be the largest social expansion in American history, top Democrats privately say.

Why it matters: At the time Biden proposed it, he had his mind set on a transformational accomplishment that would put him in the pantheon of FDR and JFK.