Surging global COVID-19 cases pull down crude oil prices

Oil prices dipped today as a surge of coronavirus infections around the globe raised fears a rebound in fuel demand would stutter just as major oil producers are set to raise output in August.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures fell 6 cents, or 0.2%, to $41.21 a barrel at 0130 GMT, while Brent crude futures lost 7 cents, also 0.2%, to $43.68 a barrel.

Both benchmark contracts hovered around unchanged levels after having jumped on Wednesday after the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported a sharp, unexpected 10.6 million barrel drop in crude stockpiles last week.

However, at the same time U.S. gasoline and distillate stocks, which include diesel and heating oil, both rose against expectations for inventories to fall – highlighting the patchy nature of the recovery in fuel demand.

“It wasn’t all good news, with signs that demand is still struggling to grow,” according to analysts.

Analysts said the mixed price moves on Thursday were due to demand concerns with COVID-19 infections increasing and raising the prospects for lockdowns to be reimposed.