Oil prices fell on Friday on demand fears in India and Brazil from the rise of virus cases, which overshadowed positive projections of a short-term economic and oil market recovery.
International benchmark Brent crude was trading at $67.85 per barrel at 0727 GMT for a 0.29% fall after closing Thursday at $68.05 per barrel.
American benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) was at $64.72 per barrel at the same time for a 0.44% decrease after ending the previous session at $65.01 per barrel.
Both benchmarks gained more than 10% in April, finding the strongest support from the OPEC+ group, which confirmed the output cuts agreed during the previous meeting along with expectations of a better second half of the year in terms of economic growth and oil demand.
Demand is also expected to boost with wider vaccination campaigns, and the subsequent lifting of travel restrictions, and increasing fuel usage.
As vaccination rollouts pick up speed, some major US cities are preparing to lift or phase out restrictions, while some, like New York City, are even planning for a full reopening in July.
The better-than-expected economic data from the US, the world’s largest oil consumer, also instilled hope of a sooner economic and oil demand rebound.
According to the US Commerce Department, the American economy expanded 6.4% in the first quarter, which was higher than analysts expected at 6.1%.
Initial jobless claims were also below 700,000 for the fourth time during the coronavirus pandemic, decreasing 13,000 to 553,000 last week, relative to analyst forecasts of 549,000.
The upcoming weeklong Chinese Labor Day holiday is also expected to increase fuel demand in the world's second-largest oil consumer.
-Virus cases continue to dampen demand hopes
Meanwhile, the worrisome increase in coronavirus cases and fatalities in India and Brazil is still curbing oil prices.
Reaching 18.7 million total cases, India set another world record for coronavirus cases on Friday, registering 386,452 infections in the past 24 hours.
The fatalities in the country have also risen to 208,330, including 3,498 new deaths, said the Health Ministry.
Second only to the US in terms of COVID-19 fatalities, Brazil’s coronavirus death toll has surpassed 400,000 on Thursday, with 3,001 deaths and nearly 70,000 cases registered in the past 24 hours.
By Sibel Morrow