Oil down as rise in China COVID cases weaken demand outlook

Oil prices fell on Thursday as rising COVID-19 cases in China, the world's largest crude importer, diminished hopes of a recovery in oil demand.

International benchmark Brent crude traded at $83.14 per barrel at 10.18 a.m. local time (0718GMT), down 1.01% from the closing price of $83.99 a barrel in the previous trading session.

American benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) traded at $78.22 per barrel at the same time, a 0.94% loss after the previous session closed at $78.96 a barrel.

The spike in COVID cases in China this week caused expectations of a demand increase to falter.

Italy, Japan, Taiwan, India, and the US plan also to impose COVID testing on travelers from China. China is opening its borders for travel starting Jan. 8.

The world's most populous nation dumped its strict "zero-COVID" policy this month, following unrest and unprecedented protests in parts of the country.

China's National Health Commission said it would report monthly case numbers instead of daily. The decision comes as China contends with an alarming rise in infections, while the number of fatalities has also reportedly spiked.

Meanwhile, the American Petroleum Institute estimated that US crude oil inventories fell by 1.3 million barrels in the week ending Dec. 23.

Source: Anadolu Agency