After Weekly Gains, Oil Steadies as Virus Concerns Resurface

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Oil prices recouped early losses and steadied on Friday as concerns about the patchy rollout of COVID19 vaccinations around the globe tempered optimism over recovering fuel demand.

Brent crude was down 1 cent at 71.30 a barrel by 0627 GMT, after falling 4 cents on Thursday following a gain to the highest since May 2019. The contract is on track for a gain of over 2.4 this week.

U.S. oil was up by 1 cent at 68.82, having dropped 2 cents in the previous session, while heading for a gain of nearly 4 this week.

The upward momentum appears to have been exhausted, making way for some profittaking. But I expect the pullback to be modest, as the broader narrative of a strong U.S. economic and oil demand rebound is wellentrenched, said Vandana Hari, energy analyst at Vanda Insights.

Both contracts climbed about 5 each in the past two weeks amid optimism that global demand for fuel was recovering from the depths of the pandemic.

We continue to view oil demand recovery as largely a function of vaccinations, JPMorgan Chase commodities analysts said in a note.

America and Europe are well advanced in their inoculation efforts, analysts noted, but sluggish vaccination rollouts in developed and emerging Asian countries alike mean there is no clear end in sight to social distancing restrictions in the region.

More than 170 million people have contracted the virus globally, while the death toll approaches 3.8 million, as the second year of the worst global health crisis in a…

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