Oil prices eased for a second day today as mounting coronavirus cases globally raised demand concerns, although a drawdown in U.S. crude stocks for a fifth straight week and robust data from China capped losses.
Brent crude oil futures fell 18 cents, or 0.3%, to $55.88 a barrel by 0425 GMT, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) slipped by 11 cents, or 0.2%, to $52.80 a barrel. Oil producers face an unprecedented challenge to balance supply and demand as factors including the pace and response to COVID-19 vaccines cloud the outlook, an official with International Energy Agency (IEA) said. China’s total crude oil imports surged 7.3% in 2020 despite the coronavirus shock earlier in the year, with record arrivals in the second and third quarters as refineries expanded operations and low prices encouraged stockpiling, customs data showed today.
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