Energy quotes jumped back in the middle of the week amid increased optimism that contagion from the Chinese coronavirus might be slowing.

Boosting those hopes, in remarks to Reuters, China’s Zhong Nanshan, who led the fight against SARS in 2003, said the new Covid-19 virus would likely peak in mid or late February and hopefully end in April.

As of 1913 GMT, April Brent on the ICE was climbing 3.44% to $55.87 a barrel, while March West Texas Intermediate was up by 2.72% at $51.30 a barrel.

In the background, the US dollar spot index was 0.25% higher at 98.9690 while the Bloomberg commodity index was advancing 1.11% to 75.21.

Gains in crude materialised despite the US Department of Energy reporting a 7.459m barrel build in the country’s commercial stockpiles, which more than double the 2.987m expected by analysts.

Nevertheless, the lion’s share of the increase was the result of a combination of higher imports and lower exports, alongside a small increase in domestic US oil output.

“Prices fell a touch in response to the weekly stocks report. However, they are still up strongly today as market concerns about the coronavirus seem to be easing,” commented Samuel Burman at Capital Economics.

LME trading meanwhile was described as “mixed” amid light volumes by traders at Sucden Financial, with three-month copper futures rising from $5,740 per metric tonne to $$5,764.

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