LONDON: Oil fell below $43 a barrel on Friday as a resurgence of coronavirus cases raised concern that fuel demand growth could stall, although crude was still headed for a weekly gain on lower supply and wider signs of economic recovery.
The US reported more than 55,000 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, a new daily global record for the pandemic. The rise in cases suggested US jobs growth, which jumped in June, could suffer a setback.
“If this trend continues, oil demand in the region is at risk,” said Louise Dickson of Rystad Energy.
Brent crude was down 56 cents, or 1.3 percent, at $42.58 a barrel in early afternoon trade in London and US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude fell 58 cents, or 1.4 percent, to $40.07.
“The fragile US economic rebound is at risk of being undone by the latest surge in new infections,” said Stephen Brennock of oil broker PVM.
Signs of economic recovery, and a drop in supply after a record supply cut by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies, known as OPEC+, have helped Brent more than double from a 21-year low below $16 reached in April.
Boosting recovery hopes, a private survey showed on Friday that China’s services sector expanded at the fastest pace in over a decade in June.
OPEC oil production fell to its lowest in decades in June and Russian production has dropped to near its OPEC+ target.
The bankruptcy filing of US shale pioneer Chesapeake Energy also supported prices by raising expectations production will decline, JBC Energy said in a report.
Gasoline demand will be closely watched as the US heads into the July 4 holiday weekend.