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UPDATE 4-Oil heading for weekly drop as coronavirus demand concerns mount

Fri, 25th Sep 2020 05:25

(Updates prices, adds detail)

By Noah Browning

LONDON, Sept 25 (Reuters) - Oil prices fell on Friday and
were set for a weekly decline due to mounting worries about the
impact on fuel demand of a widespread resurgence in coronavirus
infections, as well as some concern about the likely return of
exports from Libya.

Brent crude was down 30 cents at $41.64 a barrel by
1115 GMT, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude
fell 43 cents to $39.88.

Brent is heading for a drop of more than 3% this week with
U.S. crude on track for a decline of nearly 3%. Both benchmarks
are also heading for a monthly decline, which would be the first
for Brent in six months.

"This month has not been kind to the oil market," said
Stephen Brennock of oil broker PVM.

"Rising virus infections, renewed lockdowns, slowing
economic recovery and stalled U.S. stimulus talks have put the
brakes on the fragile revival in fuel demand."

In the United States, which has the highest death toll from
the coronavirus pandemic and is the world's biggest oil
consumer, unemployment claims unexpectedly rose last week
suggesting an economic recovery is flailing and pushing down
fuel demand.

U.S. fuel demand remains in the doldrums as the pandemic
constrains travel. The four-week average of gasoline demand last
week was 9% below a year earlier, government data showed on
Wednesday.

In other parts of the world, daily increases of coronavirus
infections are hitting records and new restrictions are being
put in place that will likely limit travel and fuel demand.

In India, throughput by crude oil refiners in August fell
26.4% from a year ago, the most in four months, as fuel demand
ebbed because surging coronavirus cases hindered industrial and
transport activity.

In Libya, Shell has provisionally booked a tanker to load a
crude cargo at Libya's Zueitina terminal on Oct. 3, potentially
the first since January at the recently reopened port.

However, analysts have questioned how quickly the country
could ramp up supply.

"Fundamentally, nothing has changed to the supply side of
the equation that is weighing on oil prices in the bigger
picture," said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at OANDA.

(Reporting by Noah Browning and Aaron Sheldrick; editing by
David Evans and Jason Neely)

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