Oil prices slipped on Monday over demand concerns as the increasing number of cases in some European countries forced the tightening of mitigation measures, including lockdowns.
International benchmark Brent crude was trading at $63.68 per barrel at 0722 GMT for a 1.31% decrease after closing Friday at $64.53 a barrel.
American benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) was at $60.61 per barrel at the same time for a 1.35% decline after it ended the previous session at $61.44 a barrel.
Monday’s price slump was primarily driven by investor jitters over a possible demand decline as several European countries, including Germany and Belgium, announced plans to increase measures against the rising number of coronavirus cases.
As the coronavirus numbers exceeded a key threshold in Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel will meet with state officials later on Monday to discuss the necessity of returning to a stricter lockdown.
The weekly number of new cases, which fell rapidly in January and February in the country, started to rise again at the end of February and into March.
The rising cases were believed to be the result of the rapid spread of virus variants.
Belgium’s health minister Frank Vandenbroucke on Sunday voiced the need for additional measures despite the country experiencing its second, tough national lockdown since November.
“We have set ourselves a very important ambition by completely opening schools after Easter and catering from 1 May,” Vandenbroucke said. “With this increase in contamination, there is a risk of not achieving these objectives. It is not impossible. To ensure our goals, additional measures are needed.”
By Sibel Morrow