Oil prices eased on Friday but stayed within touching distance of nine-month highs hit overnight as soaring COVID-19 cases weigh on fuel demand and U.S. lawmakers continue to battle over a $900 billion economic stimulus package.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures slipped 7 cents or 0.1%, to $48.29 a barrel at 0218 GMT, while Brent crude futures fell 13 cents, or 0.3%, to $51.37 a barrel.
Optimism about progress in a COVID-19 relief bill on Thursday, strong Asian refining demand and a two-and-a-half-year low in the U.S. dollar both came up on Thursday. Along with dollar-denominated oil, a weaker greenback makes oil cheaper in other currencies.
“We think markets are still ignoring the growing COVID-19 cases and the near-term demand pressures of the COVID-19 restrictions in the United States and Europe,” Commonwealth Bank product analyst Vivek Dhar said in a note.
Analysts say there is a growing appetite for risk over the prospect of a stimulus deal in the upcoming U.S., which will help fuel demand, but lawmakers failed to reach an agreement late Thursday.
The uninterrupted rollout of vaccines also helps protect the market from stagnant fruit.
The Food and Drug Administration of the United States was expected to approve emergency use for the coronavirus vaccine of Modernna Inc. after approval of emergency use through an independent panel.
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