Oil prices fall on renewed coronavirus concerns

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The crude oil market has been hit by renewed concerns about global fuel demand amid tough coronavirus lockdowns in Europe and new curbs on movement in China, the world’s second-largest oil user, where infections jumped.

Brent crude oil futures fell by 78 cents, at $55.21 a barrel by 0758 GMT, after falling $1 to a session low of $54.99 earlier. Brent rose in the previous four sessions.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) slipped 52 cents to $51.72 a barrel. WTI rose to its highest in nearly a year on Friday.

Mainland China saw its biggest daily increase in virus infections in more than five months, authorities said on Monday, as new infections rose in Hebei, which surrounds the capital, Beijing.

Shijiazhuang, the provincial capital and epicentre of the new outbreak, is in lockdown, with people and vehicles barred from leaving, as authorities seek to rein in the spread.

According to the Oxford stringency index, which tracks measures such as travel bans and school and workplace closures, most of Europe is now under the strictest restrictions.

Oil price losses were also curbed by plans for U.S. President-elect Joe Biden to announce trillions of dollars in new virus relief bills this week, much to be funded through increased borrowing.

Crude prices were supported by Saudi Arabia’s pledge last week for a voluntary oil output cut of 1 million barrels per day (bpd) in February and March as part of a deal for most OPEC+ producers to hold production steady during new lockdowns.




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