Oil prices rose yesterday on tighter supplies from major producers but concerns that a record rise in global coronavirus cases could curb a recovery in fuel demand checked gains.
Brent crude rose 9 cents, or 0.2 per cent, to $42.28 a barrel, while U.S. crude was at $39.76 a barrel, up 1 cent. Both contracts rose about 9 per cent last week and Brent crude futures flipped into backwardation, where oil for immediate delivery costs more than supply later, usually an indication of tightening supply.
In the United States and Canada, the number of operating oil and natural gas rigs fell to a record low even as higher oil prices prompt some producers to start drilling again. Iraq and Kazakhstan pledged to comply better with oil production cuts during an OPEC+ panel on Thursday.
However, Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC and its allies including Russia, has yet to decide whether to extend a record supply cut of 9.7 million barrels per day (bpd) for a fourth month in August.
Oil prices have also been supported by a recovery in fuel demand globally following a collapse in April-May during coronavirus shutdowns as countries across the world resume economic activities.
Still, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported a record jump in global coronavirus cases on Sunday, with the biggest increase seen in north and South America.
Spikes in coronavirus infections in parts of the world such as Beijing and Australia’s second-most populous state Victoria have prompted authorities to reimpose movement restrictions to curb the spread.
“The potential economic damage of a new round of COVID-19 countermeasures will likely contain any investor enthusiasm,” said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets.