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Coronavirus
VERY HIGH
Pakistan Deaths
18,797
12024hr
Pakistan Cases
854,240
410924hr
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290,756
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316,334
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23,186
Islamabad
77,684
KPK
123,150

NEW YORK: Oil prices rose on Tuesday after more US states eased lockdowns and the European Union sought to attract travellers, though soaring COVID-19 cases in India capped gains.

Brent crude futures were up $1.01, or 1.48%, at $68.50 a barrel by 2:00 p.m. (1700 GMT) after climbing by 1.2% on Monday.

US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures rose by 89 cents, or 1.38%, to $65.39 after a 1.4% jump on Monday. Both contracts were up about 2% in earlier trade.

“Markets were optimistic coming into the day, boosted by flight movement between US and Europe,” said Phil Flynn, senior analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago. Demand for diesel fuel, including jet, has suffered during the pandemic, weighing down global oil markets.

Prices are being supported by the prospect of a pick-up in fuel demand as New York state, New Jersey and Connecticut look to ease pandemic curbs and the EU plans to open up to foreign visitors who have been vaccinated, analysts said.

“The current strength is led by US gasoline, where demand is seen as healthy as more motorists take to the roads,” said PVM Oil Associates analyst Tamas Varga.

“Yesterday’s stock market strength is being followed through this morning in the oil market ... the market focuses on the successful rollout of vaccine programmes in the US and in other developed countries and not on the devastation in India and Brazil.”

For further signs of rising US oil demand, traders will be watching for reports on crude and product stockpiles from the American Petroleum Institute on Tuesday and the US Energy Information Administration on Wednesday.

Five analysts polled by Reuters estimated on average that US crude inventories fell by 2.2 million barrels in the week to April 30. Oil inventories rose in the previous two weeks.

The rate of refinery utilisation was expected to have increased by 0.5 percentage point last week, from 85.4% of total capacity in the week ended April 23, the poll showed.

In India, the total number of infections surpassed 20 million after the country again registered more than 300,000 new cases, which is expected to hit fuel demand in the world’s second-most populous country.

“Strong demand forecasts for the second part of 2021 are providing a bullish seat for traders to drive rallies, not allowing any strong negative price reaction to drag for long, even at times of crisis, such as the recent one in India,” said Rystad Energy analyst Louise Dickson.