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The International Energy Agency said Friday that OECD oil stockpiles are almost down to their five-year average.

Why it matters: That's the original goal of the production-limiting deal between OPEC, Russia and some other producers seeking to clear the global glut.

The IEA's new monthly oil market report states:

  • "With markets expected to tighten, it is possible that when we publish OECD stocks data in the next month or two they will have reached or even fallen below the five-year average target."
  • "It is not for us to declare on behalf of the Vienna agreement countries that it is 'mission accomplished', but if our outlook is accurate, it certainly looks very much like it."

OECD stocks has fallen to just 30 million barrels above their five-year average at the end of February, IEA said.

But, but, but: The goals and status of the OPEC-Russia relationship has become an evolving thing as the producers grapple with the rise of U.S. shale and seek to continue propping up prices. It's unlikely they'll seek an early exit to the current agreement that's slated to run through year's end.

  • "Despite shrinking oil inventories, Opec producers have said alternative metrics must be considered when evaluating the success of the deal and how long cuts should be maintained," the Financial Times noted Friday.

And there are also plans for a longer term — maybe much, much longer term — collaboration on market management between OPEC and Russia.

One level deeper: "OPEC appears to be reformulating its target in terms of upstream investment rather than oil inventories, according to an analysis of recent statements made by ministers from member countries," Reuters analyst John Kemp wrote Thursday.

For now IEA is sticking with its forecast of 1.5 million barrels per day of demand growth this year to reach 99.3 million, but warns, "the trade dispute between the US and China is introducing a downward risk to the forecast."

Go deeper: The Wall Street Journal has more on how trade fights could hit oil forecasts.

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York coronavirus restrictions

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled late Wednesday that restrictions previously imposed on New York places of worship by Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) during the coronavirus pandemic violated the First Amendment.

Why it matters: The decision in a 5-4 vote heralds the first significant action by the new President Trump-appointed conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who cast the deciding vote in favor of the Catholic Church and Orthodox Jewish synagogues.

USAID chief tests positive for coronavirus

An Air Force cargo jet delivers USAID supplies to Russia earlier this year. Photo: Mikhail Metzel/TASS via Getty Images

The acting administrator of the United States Agency for International Development informed senior staff Wednesday he has tested positive for coronavirus, two sources familiar with the call tell Axios.

Why it matters: John Barsa, who staffers say rarely wears a mask in their office, is the latest in a series of senior administration officials to contract the virus. His positive diagnosis comes amid broader turmoil at the agency following the election.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
10 hours ago - Health

COVID-19 shows a bright future for vaccines

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Promising results from COVID-19 vaccine trials offer hope not just that the pandemic could be ended sooner than expected, but that medicine itself may have a powerful new weapon.

Why it matters: Vaccines are, in the words of one expert, "the single most life-saving innovation ever," but progress had slowed in recent years. New gene-based technology that sped the arrival of the COVID vaccine will boost the overall field, and could even extend to mass killers like cancer.

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