Oil eases amid rising coronavirus cases worldwide

TOKYO (Reuters) – Oil prices fell on Monday, unnerved by the prospect that a recovery in fuel demand could be derailed by a rise in the pace of coronavirus infections around the world.

Brent crude LCOc1 was down 25 cents, or 0.6%, at $42.89 a barrel by 0353 GMT, after dropping slightly last week. U.S. oil was off by 22 cents, or 0.5%, at $40.37 a barrel, after gaining 4 cents last week.

More than 14.5 million people have been infected by the novel coronavirus globally and more than 604,000 have died of COVID-19, the disease caused by the pathogen, according to a Reuters tally.

“The risks of a second COVID-19 torpedo to world growth grow increasingly likely by the day,” said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at OANDA.

While fuel demand has recovered from a 30% drop in April after countries around the world imposed strict lockdowns, usage is still below pre-pandemic levels. U.S. retail gasoline demand is falling again as infections rise.

Japan’s oil imports fell 14.7 percent in June from the same month a year earlier, official figures showed on Monday. The drop was not as pronounced as in May when they fell 25%, year on year. [O/JAPAN1]

Still, exports from the world’s third-largest economy slumped by a double-digit decline for the fourth month in a row as the coronavirus pandemic took a heavy toll on global demand.

In the U.S., energy drillers cut the number of oil and natural gas rigs operating to a record for an 11th week in a row, data showed on Friday.



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