Oil prices weakened by rising virus cases

Oil rises to highest since Feb, set for weekly gain on Saudi output cut

Oil rises above $56 as tighter supply offsets coronavirus concern

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) fell 27 cents to $51.97 a barrel.

Brent crude oil prices fell by $1 per barrel on Monday, 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 was down 57 cents, or 1%, at $55.42 a barrel at 1205 GMT, after falling $1 to a session low of $54.99 earlier.

"The renewed concerns about demand due to very high numbers of new corona cases and further mobility restrictions, plus the stronger US dollar, are generating selling pressure", Commerzbank analyst Eugen Weinberg said.

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Worldwide coronavirus cases surpassed 90 million on Monday, according to a Reuters tally, as nations around the globe scramble to procure vaccines and continue to extend or reinstate lockdowns to fight new coronavirus variants.

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

Shijiazhuang, Hebei's capital and epicentre of the new outbreak in the province, is in lockdown with people and vehicles barred from leaving the city as authorities move to curb the spread of the disease.

Oil prices hit their highest level in almost a year and were on track for a weekly gain on Friday, supported by Saudi Arabia's pledge to cut output and strong gains in major equity markets.

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It remains to be seen whether the market will start to price in a more aggressive return of production from OPEC+ in case the current oil price rally continues.

"People are realizing the market is tighter than it has been in a while and that the commitment by Saudi Arabia to cut back production is going to keep the market balanced despite the concerns about shut-ins from COVID", said Phil Flynn, senior analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago. "Today the correction is not massive, rather a logical adjustment caused by some bearish demand signals and by a strengthening USA dollar".

"The recovery in oil demand is stalling in Europe in particular due to the prolonged lockdowns".

Brent could rise to $65 per barrel by summer 2021, Goldman Sachs said, driven by Saudi cuts and the implications of a shift in power to the Democrats in the United States.

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