Oil prices ease as pandemic overshadows Chinese and U.S. data

SectorOil & Gas
CountryMiddle east

LONDON- Oil prices dipped on Thursday as bullish signals from Chinese import data and U.S. crude oil stocks draws were outweighed by surging coronavirus cases in Europe and new lockdowns in China.Brent crude oil futures fell 35 cents to $55.71 a barrel by 1438 GMT, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) dropped 12 cents to $52.79.Brent's six-month backwardation, whereby contracts for later delivery are cheaper, fell to its lowest since Jan. 5, indicating bullish sentiment easing.China, the world's second-largest oil consumer, reported its biggest daily jump in new COVID-19 cases in more than 10 months.Governments across Europe have announced tighter and longer coronavirus lockdowns, with vaccinations not expected to have a significant impact for the next few months. Oil producers face an unprecedented challenge balancing supply and demand as factors including the pace and response to COVID-19 vaccines cloud the outlook, said an official at the International Energy Agency (IEA).Saudi Arabia, for example, is throttling oil supply to some Asian buyers, refinery and trade sources told Reuters, while Russia plans to ramp up output this year, according to Russian media. "The Saudi cuts are priced in since last week, even a bit more than was reasonable under market conditions, and a...read more...