Oil futures remained under pressure Thursday, falling for a third straight session, with weakness tied in part to a continued surge in COVID-19 cases outside the U.S., underlining concerns about energy demand as lockdowns on business and consumer activities are imposed.
West Texas Intermediate crude for June delivery was down 36 cents, or 0.6%, at $60.99 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. June Brent crude the global benchmark, was off 40 cents, or 0.6%, at $64.92 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe.
India on Thursday saw 314,835 new COVID-19 cases, news reports said, marking a record daily tally.
“Further increases in the number of new COVID cases in India, where for the first time more than 300,000 people have caught coronavirus within 24 hours, are sparking doubts about how demand there will develop,” said Eugen Weinberg, analyst at Commerzbank, in a note.
Sharply rising case numbers in Japan are also a concern, with officials weighing a state of emergency for Osaka and Tokyo. India and Japan are among the world’s largest oil consumers and importers, Weinberg noted.
The demand picture in the U.S., by contrast, appears strong, he noted. While data released Wednesday showed a rise in U.S. crude inventories, gasoline demand increased to 9.1 million barrels a day — the highest since the peaking during last year’s summer driving season, Weinberg said.