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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

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
13 mins ago - Science

A new NASA astronaut corps for the next era in space

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

NASA's next crewed missions to the Moon will need a larger, differently-trained and multi-skilled astronaut corps to deliver on the agency's ambitions.

Why it matters: NASA has plans to fly astronauts to the surface of the Moon in 2025 and ultimately establish a long-term presence there. That goal requires a robust corps with new, specialized training in what it takes to live and work on the Moon — and NASA needs to start planning now.

China builds its own movie empire

Expand chart
Data: Gower Street citing Comscore; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

China blocked all four of Disney's Marvel movies from being released in its theaters last year, a grim sign for U.S. film giants being squeezed out of the world's fastest-growing box office.

Why it matters: The Chinese Communist Party is using domestic films as a key conduit for mass messaging aimed at achieving political goals, leaving little room for foreign views.

Distrust in political, media and business leaders sweeps the globe

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Trust in government is collapsing, especially in democracies, according to a new global survey.

Why it matters: People also don't think media or business leaders are telling them the truth, and this suspicion of multiple societal institutions is pushing people into smaller, more insular circles of trust.