Oil gains as coronavirus lockdowns ease, boosting hopes for demand pickup


Oil prices rose on Monday, erasing earlier losses, as countries around the world continued to ease lockdown measures imposed to combat the coronavirus pandemic, boosting hopes for a recovery in fuel demand.

Amid quiet trading, with financial centres Singapore, London and New York all closed for holidays, Brent was up 6 cents, or 0.2%, at $35.19 a barrel by 0636 GMT. U.S. oil CLc1 had gained 27 cents, or 0.82%, at $33.52 a barrel.

Both contracts have risen for the past four weeks, although prices are still down around 45% so far this year.

“Oil markets are focused on the potential for an easing of lockdown measures,” said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets in Sydney.

Trading volumes were light, and gains are likely to be capped by rising tensions between the United States and China over moves by Beijing to impose security legislation on the one-time British colony.

Ties between Washington and Beijing have soured since the outbreak of the new coronavirus. President Donald Trump and President Xi Jinping have traded barbs over the outbreak, including accusations of cover-ups and lack of transparency.

Points of contention between the superpowers have included Hong Kong, human rights, trade and U.S. support for Chinese-claimed Taiwan.