Oil prices were steady on Monday as support from U.S. stimulus plans and jitters about supplies competed with worries about the impact on demand from renewed coronavirus lockdowns.
Brent crude futures for March were up 13 cents, or 0.2, to 55.54 a barrel by 1515 GMT. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude for March was up 10 cents, or 0.2, at 52.37.
Sentiment was buoyed by expectations for a blockbuster coronavirus relief package … but the tug of war between stimulus optimism and virus woes is set to continue, said Stephen Brennock of broker PVM.
U.S. lawmakers are set to lock horns over the size of a 1.9 trillion pandemic relief package proposed by President Joe Biden. The stimulus would support the economy and fuel demand.
European nations, major consumers of oil, have imposed tough restrictions to halt the spread of the virus, while China reported a rise in new COVID19 cases, casting a pall over demand prospects in the worlds largest energy consumer.
Barclays raised its 2021 oil price forecasts, but said rising cases in China could contribute to nearterm pullbacks.
Even though the pandemic is not yet slowing down, oil prices have good reasons to start the week with gains, said Bjornar Tonhaugen from Rystad Energy.
Supply concerns have offered some support. Indonesia said its coast guard seized an Iranianflagged tanker over suspected illegal fuel transfers, raising the prospect of more tensions in the oilexporting Gulf.
A development that always benefits…