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Top oil producers met on Thursday to discuss a possible cut in output after a collapse in demand due to the coronavirus pandemic and a Saudi-Russian price war causing the market to crash.The teleconference took place at 1400 GMT between OPEC, its OPEC+ allies including Russia and other key non-members, seen as the best chance of providing support to prices which are wallowing at near two-decade lows.
Experts warn that without concerted action the commodity risks another steep sell-off.But investors seemed hopeful on Thursday, sending oil prices rising.Last week US President Donald Trump claimed Russia and Saudi Arabia would step back from their stand-off and agree to slash output.
Then OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia called for an urgent meeting of producers "to try to reach a fair deal" to "stabilize the oil market" following a phone call between its Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Trump.Thursday's meeting intended to conclude an agreement to cut production by between 10 and 15 million barrels per day, Kuwait's Oil Minister Khaled al-Fadhel said in an interview with the Kuwaiti Al-Rai Daily published Thursday.
Late Wednesday a spokesman for the Russian energy ministry told the TASS agency that Moscow was "prepared to cut 1.6 million barrels a day," which would be the equivalent of 14 percent of Russia's production in the first quarter of 2020.
"The extraordinary producing-countries meeting is the only hope on the horizon for the market that could prevent a total price collapse," said Bjornar Tonhaugen, head of oil markets at Rystad Energy.The US is set for another jarring look at how badly the coronavirus has marred the economy when new weekly jobless benefit claim data was released on Thursday.
Photo taken on March 30 shows an almost-empty terminal building at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington of Virginia, the US. Photo: XinhuaPrevious reports by the Labor Department indicated that a combined 10 million people lost their jobs as businesses across the world's largest economy shut down to stop the virus' spread.
Analysts expected this Thursday's data to show another jump of several million, further pressuring Washington lawmakers to take action. "It's hard to see anything other than another horrendous report," the consulting firm Pantheon Macroeconomics wrote in an analysis.The consensus among economists is on a report showing five million new claims for unemployment benefits, but many expect it to be higher.