Oil prices fell more than 4% on Tuesday, hit by concerns over new pandemic curbs and slow vaccine rollouts in Europe as well as a stronger dollar.
Brent crude futures were down $2.56, or 4%, to $62.08 a barrel by 12:16 pm ET (1616 GMT), having hit a low of $61.41. West Texas Intermediate crude (WTI) fell $2.65, or 4.3%, to $58.91, after falling to as low as $58.47. Both benchmarks traded near lows not seen since February 12.
The front-month Brent spread flipped into a small contango for the first time since January. Contango is where the front-month contracts are cheaper than future months, and could encourage traders to put oil into storage.
“The road to oil demand recovery appears to be full of obstacles as the world continues to fight the Covid-19 pandemic,” Bjornar Tonhaugen, head of oil markets at Rystad Energy. “Oil prices are declining again on Tuesday, proving that last week’s correction was not deep enough and that the market had been trading lately with an excessively bullish sentiment, overlooking the pandemic’s risk,” he said.
Extended lockdowns in Europe are being driven by the threat of a third wave, with a new variant of the coronavirus on the continent. Germany, Europe’s biggest oil consumer, is extending its lockdown until April 18.
Nearly a third of France entered a month-long lockdown on Saturday following a jump in cases in Paris and parts of northern France.
A stronger US dollar also weighed on prices.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 24th, 2021.
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