Oil prices gain on renewed U.S. stimulus hopesOil prices gain on renewed U.S. stimulus hopes
FILE PHOTO: The sun is seen behind a crude oil pump jack in the Permian Basin in Loving County

By Sonali Paul and Seng Li Peng

MELBOURNE/SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Oil prices rose on Thursday as renewed hopes for U.S. fiscal stimulus provided support but worries over rising infections hampering fuel demand could cap gains.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures rose 13 cents to $40.35 a barrel at 0645 GMT , after jumping 2.4% on Wednesday.

Brent crude futures gained 11 cents to $42.41 a barrel, after falling 0.2% overnight.

The Trump administration has proposed a new stimulus package to House Democrats worth over $1.5 trillion.

“Even if Trump does sign, it must still be approved and originated by the House. Still, it appears progress is being made with the Republicans at $1.5 trillion, and the Democrats at $2.2 trillion,” said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst for Asia Pacific of OANDA.

“The odds of a compromise have increased dramatically and this will be positive for markets.”

Earlier, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said talks with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made progress on COVID-19 relief legislation, and the House of Representatives postponed a vote on a $2.2 trillion Democratic coronavirus plan to allow more time for a bipartisan deal to come together.

WTI jumped on Wednesday after data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration showed crude and distillate inventories, which include diesel and jet fuel, fell more than expected in the latest week.

Demand worries remain, though, as the pandemic has infected over 7.2 million and killed more than 206,000 people in the United States.

Growing supply from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) also weighed on the market, with output having risen by 160,000 barrels per day (bpd) in September from August as some Libyan installations restarted and Iran’s exports grew, a Reuters survey found.

ANZ Research noted reports of Russia increasing production beyond its quota within the grouping of OPEC and its allies, known as OPEC+.

“Increasing supplies from OPEC+ will be risking their rebalancing effort as the market is still grappling with weak demand,” ANZ Research said.

In a Reuters survey, 40 analysts and economists now see global demand contracting by 8 million-9.8 million bpd this year versus an 8 million-10 million bpd consensus last month.

They trimmed their outlook for oil prices this year, however, with the average of forecasts for benchmark Brent crude at $42.48 a barrel for 2020 down from an average forecast of $42.75 last month.

The 2020 U.S. crude price outlook was at $38.70 per barrel versus $38.82 in August.

(Reporting by Sonali Paul in Melbourne and Seng Li Peng in Singapore; Editing by Richard Pullin, Stephen Coates and Tom Hogue)