Oil prices were down on Thursday over market uncertainties, which are intensifying investor concerns over demand recovery at a time when some countries have started to impose new restrictions to battle the coronavirus.
International benchmark Brent crude was trading at $43.22 per barrel at 0644 GMT for a 0.23% decrease after closing Wednesday at $43.32 a barrel.
American benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) was at $40.95 a barrel at the same time for a 0.21% decrease after ending the previous session at $41.04 per barrel.
The rise in coronavirus cases and epidemic-related instability in the global economy, as well as diminishing hope of a US stimulus package to aid economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic effects are key factors in the fall of oil prices.
Speaking after an hour-long conversation with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said a new economic relief bill is unlikely before the election.
The number of COVID-19 cases worldwide is now over 38.5 million, according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University.
While the US still tops the number of cases above 7.9 million as of Thursday morning, India’s cases now total over 7.3 million, and Brazil follows with over 5.1 million cases.
On Wednesday, France announced that a nightly curfew would be imposed in Paris and other cities, as a state of emergency has been declared in the country to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Late Wednesday, the American Petroleum Institute (API) announced its estimate of a fall of 5.4 million barrels in US crude oil inventories relative to the market expectation of a 2.8 million-barrel draw.
Analysts said the decrease in inventories is due to the impact of the shutdown of US production in the Gulf of Mexico by Hurricane Delta.
If crude stocks fall in line with the API’s expectations, this would signal that crude demand is rebounding in the US, the world's largest oil consumer, to positively support prices and limit further declines.
Hopes that oil demand will rise, as the winter is coming, are also limiting further oil price decreases.
By Sibel Morrow