Oil prices increased more than 5% during the week ending Dec. 10 with the easing of concerns over the impact of the new Covid-19 omicron variant on economic recovery and demand projections after vaccine makers announced three doses could protect against the virus.
International benchmark Brent crude traded at $75.28 per barrel at 1245 GMT on Friday, posting a 5.2% increase from the Monday session that opened at $71.57 a barrel.
American benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) registered at $71.80 per barrel at the same time on Friday, rising 5.6% relative to the opening price of $68 a barrel on Monday.
The week started on a positive note, showing buoyant prices after OPEC's de facto leader, Saudi Arabia, raised crude oil prices for Asia and the US.
The stalemate in the ongoing US-Iran talks, the conclusion of which could result in the lifting of sanctions on Iran's oil exports, also supported the upward price trend by preventing Iranian oil from soon hitting the market.
Prices continued rising by mid-week over relief that the omicron variant is so far showing only mild symptoms and scaling back new restrictions.
Ozlem Tureci, one of BioNTech’s two Turkish-German co-founders, told a news conference on Wednesday that preliminary laboratory studies demonstrated that three doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine neutralized the omicron variant of the coronavirus.
The decrease in US crude stocks also supported the upward price movement, creating positive market sentiments over greater demand. US commercial crude oil inventories decreased 0.1% during the week ending Dec. 3, according to the latest data released by the Energy Information Administration (EIA).
The end of the week showed negative market sentiment over the slowdown in the property sector in China, one of the world’s biggest oil importers, when Chinese real estate giants Evergrande and Kaisa went into default after failing to pay their debts.
By Ebru Sengul Cevrioglu