Oil, Equities Futures Gain Ahead of Biden's Inauguration

Liubov Georges
By  Liubov Georges , DTN Energy Reporter

WASHINGTON (DTN) -- Nearest delivery oil futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange and Brent crude on the Intercontinental Exchange followed equities higher in early trade Wednesday, as investors anticipate the first actions of the incoming Biden's administration that are expected to address the coronavirus pandemic and seek heavy stimulus to spur the economy's slowing recovery.

President-elect Joe Biden inherits a slowing economy amid a worsening pandemic that continues to shutter businesses across the country while keeping millions of Americans on unemployment benefits. United States has passed a grim milestone of 400,000 virus-related deaths on Tuesday, with the toll on human life projected to rise further in coming weeks before leveling off mid-February.

Markets have been looking towards Biden's aggressive legislature that targets the viral spread, including a faster vaccine rollout and heavy funding for testing and personal protection equipment. Specifically, Biden pledged to oversee administering 100 million COVID-19 vaccinations in his first 100 days in office, which transition officials say is still a reachable goal despite initial efforts to deliver a vaccine that have been much slower than expected. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that more than 11.1 million doses had been given as of Tuesday.

The Trump administration left distribution to the states, but Biden's plans to broaden the federal government's role to achieve nationwide immunization targets. Biden's team plans to set up federal sites for mass distribution, along with mobile vaccination centers for people in rural areas.

Biden also set to quickly push U.S. Congress to approve additional relief funds for the economy that is currently shedding jobs and depressing consumer spending. Last week, the President-elect unveiled a $1.9 trillion stimulus proposal that would provide stimulus checks of $1,400 for eligible Americans, extend unemployment benefits and deliver aid to the state and local governments among other measures.

On Tuesday, Janet Yellen, the designated nominee for Treasury Secretary called on U.S. lawmakers to "go big" on the stimulus, which, coupled with low rates, will help heal the 'scar tissue' left by the coronavirus pandemic.

"Economists don't always agree, but I think there is a consensus now: Without further action, we risk a longer, more painful recession now- and long-term scarring of the economy later," said Yellen during Tuesday's testimony before the Senate Finance Committee.

NYMEX February WTI futures advanced 50 cents to $53.48 per barrel (bbl) head of its expiration this afternoon, with March WTI trading near parity. March Brent contract on ICE added 41 cents to $56.32 bbl. NYMEX February ULSD futures were modestly higher near $1.6035 gallon, with February RBOB futures climbing nearly 1 cent to a $1.5498 gallon.

Liubov Georges can be reached at liubov.georges@dtn.com

Liubov Georges