Energy ETFs Surge as Coronavirus Vaccine Supports Demand Outlook

Energy sector-related exchange traded funds led the charge on Monday as positive updates on a coronavirus vaccine helped fuel bets that the economy will make a speedy recovery with the previously downtrodden, economically-sensitive segments gaining momentum.

On Monday, the SPDR Oil & Gas Equipment & Services ETF (NYSEArca: XES) advanced 8.3%, VanEck Vectors Oil Service ETF (NYSEArca: OIH) jumped 7.8%, and iShares U.S. Oil Equipment & Services ETF (NYSEArca: IEZ) increased 7.1%. Meanwhile, the broader Energy Select Sector SPDR (NYSEArca: XLE), the largest equity-based energy exchange traded fund, was up 5.5%.

The United States Oil Fund (NYSEArca: USO), which tracks West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures, and the United States Brent Oil Fund (NYSEArca: BNO), which tracks Brent crude oil futures, were also 1.5% and 1.7% higher, respectively on Monday. WTI crude oil futures were up 1.1% to $42.9 per barrel, and Brent crude gained 2.1% to $45.9 per barrel.

Energy markets continued to strengthen as traders anticipated a Covid-19 vaccine would fuel a recovery in crude oil demand after AstraZeneca Plc became the latest company to report a vaccine that showed a high rate of protection. Vaccinations will “hopefully” start by Dec. 12, Moncef Slaoui, head of the U.S. government’s Operation Warp Speed program, told CNN, according to Bloomberg.

“Some of these back-of-the-curve markets switching from contango to backwardation is proof in the pudding that the market is optimistic about the prospects for a vaccine,” Bob Yawger, director of the futures division at Mizuho Securities, told Bloomberg. “It’s a strong move here. There’s some really good stuff going on for this market.”

Further supporting energy markets, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, along with Russia and other producers, a group known as OPEC+, could extend a deal to curb output, Reuters reports. OPEC+, which meets on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1., will consider options to extend a deal on output cuts by at least three months from January.

“The overall ‘risk-on’ sentiment is being driven by more positive vaccine news this weekend and oil prices in particular are being propelled higher by aggressive ‘short’ covering, especially in the ICE Brent contract,” Ryan Fitzmaurice, commodities strategist at Rabobank, told Bloomberg. On top of further short covering, “the oil market will be focused on the OPEC+ meeting which is set for next week and which will likely begin to garner a great deal of attention as the week goes on.”

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