Crude Oil Flat; Europe, U.S. Economies Reopen, But Asia Worries Mount

  • Commodities News
Crude Oil Flat; Europe, U.S. Economies Reopen, But Asia Worries Mount
Credit: © Reuters.

By Peter Nurse -- Crude oil prices were largely unchanged Tuesday, handing back earlier gains as traders digested reopenings of the European and U.S. economies as well as the deteriorating Covid situation in Asia.

By 9:10 AM ET (1410 GMT), U.S. crude futures traded 0.1% lower at $66.19 a barrel, while the international benchmark Brent contract was flat at $69.44, after earlier topping $70 for the first time since March 15. The Brent contract hasn’t had a prolonged period above $70 since 2019.

U.S. Gasoline RBOB Futures were up 0.3% at $2.1653 a gallon.

The news surrounding the Covid-19 virus in Western democracies has all been good of late as their vaccination programs bear fruit. The British economy reopened on Monday, and Europe is starting to reopen cities and beaches, welcoming some tourist flights. New cases in the United States have continued to fall, and New York has lifted the mask requirement for vaccinated people as of Wednesday.

Deutsche Lufthansa AG (DE: LHAG ) said on Tuesday it was seeing a surge in demand for flights to the United States and to European destinations following a loosening of German travel restrictions as coronavirus case numbers decline.

Traders are optimistic about the prospects for a bullish summer as consumption snaps back in both regions, particularly as the International Energy Agency said last week that the surplus stockpiles that were built up during the pandemic have cleared.

Still, despite these gains, the news surrounding the Covid-19 virus is more worrying in large parts of Asia, excluding China. 

“This move higher comes despite worries over the Covid-19 situation in Asia, with Taiwan and Singapore tightening Covid-19 related restrictions in recent days, whilst Japan has also recently extended its regional states of emergency,” said ING analysts, in a note.

And in India, Bloomberg reported that preliminary data from the country’s three largest fuel retailers showed that road fuel demand over the first half of May was down by around 20% from the previous month.

In corporate news, the activist seeking to revamp the board of Exxon Mobil (NYSE: XOM ) received a boost Monday, with Glass Lewis & Co,  another prominent shareholder advisory firm, recommending investors support two of its four nominees.

Later in the session, the American Petroleum Institute will report its weekly inventory levels of U.S. crude oil, petrol and distillate stocks, with the industry body reporting last week a draw of over 2.5 million barrels of crude.

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