- Oil Prices Fell After OPEC +
- BoJ Begins Phase 1 Tests on Digital Money Today
- Seven UK Blood Clot Deaths after AstraZeneca Vaccine
Oil Prices Fell After OPEC +
Oil prices slipped on Monday, paring solid gains made in the previous session that was driven by the decision by OPEC+ to gradually ease some of its production cuts between May and July.
West Texas Oil fell 0.6% after rising 3.9% on Thursday. The OPEC + coalition decided to increase oil production by 1 million barrels per day between May and July.
Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz Bin Salman announced that after the meeting, his country would gradually remove the voluntary production cut of 1 million barrels per day; by adding 250,000 barrels per day to production in May 350,000 barrels a day in June, and 400,000 barrels in July.
The decision to keep the current production levels constant was expected from the meeting of the 23 OPEC + member countries’ energy and oil ministers.
At the meeting on March 4, it was agreed that non-OPEC countries, Russia and Kazakhstan, would increase oil production in April due to seasonal reasons; Russia to increase its production by 130 thousand barrels per day in April and Kazakhstan to 20 thousand barrels, and Saudi Arabia to continue its voluntary cut of 1 million barrels per day.
OPEC decided that other members would continue their current production levels in April.
OPEC + ‘decision to increase production is more of a consensus than confidence in the market recovery. Another concession to Russia may disrupt the harmony within the coalition.
According to OPEC’s statement, OPEC pointed out that 23 countries decided to increase half a million barrels per month in December 2020, and OPEC reported that an increase would be made not exceeding 500 thousand barrels per day for the next three months.
Goldman Sachs analysts said the decision pointed to a cautious and orderly ramp-up from OPEC+, allowing for a tight oil market. The bank expects a significant rebound in oil demand this summer that will require an additional 2 million BPD of OPEC+ production from July to October.
West Texas Oil for May settlement is trading in the Nymex market, down 0.6%, at $61.09 a barrel.
Brent oil for June settlement fell 0.7% to $64.44 a barrel on the London ICE Futures Europe market.
BoJ Begins Phase 1 Tests on Digital Money Today
The Bank of Japan (BOJ) began experiments on Monday to study the feasibility of issuing its digital currency, joining efforts by other central banks aiming to match the innovation in the field achieved by the private sector.
The tests will determine technical applicability, core functions, and required features for the central bank digital currency according to the statement. The 1st phase of concept verification will begin today for the tests to complete the essential preparations.
BOJ will create a test environment for the central bank’s digital currency in the first phase, evaluating issuance, distribution, and recovery of digital money as a means of payment. Phase 1 tests will continue until March 2022.
The BOJ will, after that, move to the second phase of experiments that will scrutinize more complex functions, such as whether to set limits on the amount of CBDC each entity can hold.
If necessary, the central bank will launch a pilot program that involves payment service providers and end-users, BOJ Executive Director Shinichi Uchida said last month.
The BoJ originally announced its plans to launch CBDC testing in October 2021. The bank emphasized that while it “has no plan to issue CBDC “from the viewpoint of ensuring the overall payment and settlement systems’ stability and efficiency, it is still important to prepare for “changes in circumstances in an appropriate manner.”
After completing the second phase of the study, the bank aims to launch a pilot CBDC program involving payment service providers and end-users, according to the initial CBDC experiment roadmap. This phase will test the feasibility of additional CBDC functions in the first phase’s test environment.
Though China continues to lead the pack, the Bank of Japan has been accelerating its efforts to catch up with a plan announced last October to begin experimenting with its digital currency.
Seven UK Blood Clot Deaths after AstraZeneca Vaccine
According to multiple reports, seven people have died from blood clots after receiving AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said Saturday.
BBC health officials stated that 30 of the 18 million people who received the vaccine had blood clots formation.
It is unknown whether this is a coincidence or a side effect of the vaccine. Authorities say that the vaccine benefits are more significant than the risk.
“The benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine in preventing COVID-19, with its associated risk of hospitalization and death, outweigh the risks of side effects,” the European Medicines Agency said in a press briefing March 31, echoing what the regulator said in the weeks prior.
However, Germany, France, the Netherlands, and Canada, out of concern, decided to administer the vaccine to older citizens.
It is currently being investigated whether the AstraZeneca vaccine causes blood clotting; The European Medicines Agency stated earlier that this possibility has not yet been proven, but it is possible. Officials from MHRA indicated that they had carefully investigated seven deaths. It is not yet clear whether this is just a coincidence or a natural side effect of the vaccine.
On the other hand, MHRA emphasized that the vaccine’s benefits outweigh the risks. In early March, Norway and many different European countries announced that they suspended or stopped administering AstraZeneca vaccines, following case reports of blood clotting.
Besides, the United States has put Johnson and Johnson in charge of a plant that ruined 15 million doses of its Covid-19 vaccine and has stopped British drug maker AstraZeneca Plc from using the facility, a senior health official said on Saturday.
AstraZeneca, whose vaccine has not been approved in the United States, said it would work with President Joe Biden’s administration to find an alternative site to produce its vaccine.
J&J said it was “assuming full responsibility” of the Emergent BioSolutions facility in Baltimore, reiterating that it will deliver 100 million doses to the government by the end of May.