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Oil drops as surging COVID-19 infections stoke demand concerns

Coronavirus10 minutes ago (Apr 19, 2021 01:00AM ET)

(C) Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A well head and drilling rig in the Yarakta oilfield in Russia

By Aaron Sheldrick

TOKYO (Reuters) -Oil prices were lower on Monday as rising coronavirus infections in India and other countries prompted concerns that stronger measures to contain the pandemic will hit economic activity, along with demand for commodities such as crude.

Brent crude was down 23 cents, or 0.3%, at $66.54 a barrel by 0426 GMT, after rising 6% last week. U.S. oil was down 27 cents, or 0.2%, at $62.96 a barrel, having gained 6.4% last week.

“The progress of vaccination drives in the developed markets can be seen in road traffic levels, but resurging case numbers have reversed the recovery in the emerging countries,” such as India and Brazil, said ANZ Research in a report on Monday.

India reported a record rise in coronavirus infections of 273,810 on Monday, increasing overall cases to just over 15 million, making the country the second-worst affected after the United States, which has reported more than 31 million infections. India’s deaths from COVID-19 rose by a record 1,619 to nearly 180,000.

Hong Kong will suspend flights from India, Pakistan and the Philippines from April 20 due to imported coronavirus infections, authorities said in a statement late on Sunday.

Japanese companies believe the world’s third-largest economy will experience a fourth round of coronavirus infections, with many bracing for a further blow to business, a Reuters monthly poll showed.

Japan has had far fewer COVID-19 cases than many other major economies, but concerns about a new wave of infections are rising fast, according to their responses in the poll.

A slower rollout of vaccinations compared with other Group of Seven advanced countries and the lack of a sense of crisis among the public will trigger a new wave of infections, some companies wrote in the poll.

In the United States energy companies added oil and natural gas rigs for a fifth consecutive week for the first time since February as higher oil prices this year encouraged drillers to return to the wellpad. [RIG/U]

Oil drops as surging COVID-19 infections stoke demand concerns

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