News: Oil steadies but Europe pandemic outlook knocks demand hopes.
TOKYO (Reuters) – Oil prices rose on Friday but still fell more than 8% over the course of the week as a new wave of COVID-19 infections across Europe sparked new lockdowns and hopes for an early recovery in the Fuel demand subdued.
Prices fell 7% on Thursday, falling for the fifth straight year amid concerns over slowing vaccination programs in Europe, even as infections declined in the US, the hardest hit country and largest consumer of crude oil.
U.S. crude rose 10 cents, or 0.2%, to $ 60.10 a barrel by 0233 GMT. Brent crude rose 18 cents, or 0.3%, to $ 63.46 a barrel.
“The market is becoming increasingly nervous in some European countries as COVID-19 restrictions are re-imposed, raising concerns about the demand outlook,” ING Economics said in a statement to customers.
Several large European countries have reinstated lockdowns as new infections rise, while vaccination programs have slowed due to concerns about the side effects of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is widely used in Europe.
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 and Richard Pullin
Original Source © Reuters