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Oil inches up despite coronavirus-related demand concerns

  • Brent crude was up 32 cents, or 0.5%, at $67.09 a barrel.
  • With oil priced in dollars, a softer greenback could spur demand from holders of other currencies, boosting prices.
Published April 19, 2021

LONDON: Oil prices edged higher on Monday as the US dollar weakened, although concerns about the impact on demand from rising coronavirus cases in India and other countries capped gains.

Brent crude was up 32 cents, or 0.5%, at $67.09 a barrel by 1353 GMT, after rising 6% last week. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) US oil was up 41 cents, or 0.7%, at $63.54 a barrel, having gained 6.4% last week.

The US dollar traded at a six-week low versus major peers on Monday, with Treasury yields hovering near their weakest in five weeks.

With oil priced in dollars, a softer greenback could spur demand from holders of other currencies, boosting prices.

Prices, however, were weighed down by new lockdown measures to combat rising coronavirus cases in India and other countries.

India reported a record rise in infections on Monday which lifted 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.

Deaths from COVID-19 in India also rose by a record 1,619 to nearly 180,000.

The capital region of Delhi ordered a six-day lockdown, joining around 13 other states across India that have decided to impose restrictions, curfews or lockdowns in their cities.

"This new wave of measures, while so far likely to be less stringent than what we saw in March 2020, when gasoline and gasoil/diesel demand in the country fell by close to 60%, is nevertheless set to weigh on transportation fuel consumption," consultancy JBC said.

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

JP Morgan now expects Brent prices to break the $70 mark by May, compared with September in its previous forecast, the bank said in a recent note. It still expects them to finish the year at a similar level of about $74.

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