Oil slips below $45/bbl on demand concerns, but set for weekly rise

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NEW YORK – Oil prices fell more than 1% on Friday, pulling back from a week of gains due to concerns that the global recovery could falter from a resurgence of coronavirus cases.

The rise in coronavirus infections remains the dominant issue for the demand outlook. Cases in the United States are still rising in a number of states, while India recently reported a record daily jump in infections. More than 700,000 people have died in the worldwide pandemic.

Brent crude LCOc1 lost 57 cents, or 1.3%, to $44.52 a barrel by 11:23 a.m. EDT (1523 GMT). U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude CLc1 fell 60 cents, or 1.4%, to $41.35 a barrel.

Brent is set for a weekly gain of 2.8%, while WTI is on track to rise 2.7%.

Talks between U.S. lawmakers over another round of stimulus have stalled, meanwhile. U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened to pull White House representatives out of talks and instead issue executive orders to address economic needs.

“The U.S. Congress can’t seem to come up with a plan for the next round of stimulus and it’s creating doubt for U.S. economic recovery,” said Gary Cunningham, director of market research at Tradition Energy.

OPEC member Iraq pledged to cut output further in August, which helped support prices. The nation has been a laggard in fully meeting its pledge as part of an April deal to reduce supply.

Crude has recovered from lows reached in April, when Brent slipped below $16, a 21-year low.

“Keeping the price levels would be unrealistic,” Bjornar Tonhaugen of Rystad Energy said of this week’s rise. “Traders rushed to the task today to correct the gains, remembering the invisible enemy, COVID-19.”

U.S. non-farm payrolls for July came in slightly better than expected, but still showed employment growth slowed. U.S. Democratic leaders said the jobs report showed more investments were needed.

 

REUTERS

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