News: Oil slump deepens as Europe faces pandemic lockdowns.
TOKYO (Reuters) – Oil prices fell on Friday, extending losses by a sixth day, as a new wave of COVID-19 infections broke out across Europe, setting new lockdowns and dampening hopes for an imminent recovery in fuel demand.
Prices fell the most on Thursday since last summer, slashing oil by nearly 10% this week. The pandemic continues even as infections have decreased in the US, the hardest hit country and largest consumer of crude oil.
US crude fell below $ 60 again, trading at $ 59.97 a barrel by 0115 GMT. Brent crude fell 1 cent to $ 63.27.
Several major European countries have reintroduced the lockdown as new infections pick up again, while vaccination programs slow due to concerns about the side effects of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is widely used in Europe.
“Demand concerns related to a bumpy vaccine roll-out in Europe and other parts of the world,” said Vivek Dhar, director of mining and energy resources research at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia. Rising infections in Brazil also weighed on the market, he said.
Germany, France and other countries have since announced the resumption of vaccinations after regulators declared the AstraZeneca vaccine safe. However, the program freeze has made it more difficult to overcome some population groups’ resistance to vaccines.
Rising COVID-19 cases, particularly in Brazil, also weighed on the demand outlook and increased pressure on US dollar oil prices.
Oil reserves are also plentiful. According to the Joint Organizations Data Initiative website on Thursday, Saudi Arabia’s crude oil exports rose for the seventh consecutive year to their highest level since April 2020 in January.
Deliveries from the world’s largest oil exporter rose in January from 6.495 million in the previous month to 6.582 million barrels per day.
In the US, crude oil inventories rose for a fifth week last week, according to official data released on Wednesday.
Reporting by Aaron Sheldrick; Adaptation by Leslie Adler
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