Oil Drops as Rising COVID-19 Infections Troubled Demand

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A wellhead and drilling rig in the Yarakta oil field in Russia

By Aaron Sheldrick

TOKYO (Reuters) – Oil prices were lower on Monday as rising coronavirus infections in India and elsewhere raised concerns that stronger measures to contain the pandemic could hurt economic activity as well as demand for commodities like crude oil.

was down 23 cents, or 0.3%, to $ 66.54 a barrel by 0426 GMT after rising 6% last week. US oil fell 27 cents, or 0.2%, to $ 62.96 a barrel after gaining 6.4% last week.

“The progress of vaccination in developed countries is showing in road traffic, but the recovery in case numbers has reversed the recovery in emerging markets like India and Brazil,” ANZ Research said in a report on Monday.

India reported a record increase in coronavirus infections of 273,810 on Monday, bringing the total number of cases to just over 15 million. That makes the country the second worst-hit country after the US, which has reported more than 31 million infections. India’s deaths from COVID-19 rose a record high from 1,619 to nearly 180,000.

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

Japanese companies believe the world’s third largest economy will see a fourth round of coronavirus infections, with many poised for another blow to business, according to a monthly Reuters poll.

Japan has had far fewer COVID-19 cases than many other major economies, but concerns about a new wave of infections are rising rapidly, according to their responses in the survey.

A slower adoption of vaccinations compared to other advanced Group of Seven countries and the lack of a sense of crisis among the public will trigger a new wave of infections, some companies wrote in the survey.

In the US, energy companies added oil and rigs for the fifth consecutive year for the first time since February as higher oil prices this year encouraged drills to return to the well. [RIG/U]

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