Oil prices fell on Monday, hit by renewed concerns about global fuel demand amid tough coronavirus lockdowns in Europe and new curbs on movement in China, the world’s second-largest oil user, where infections jumped.
Brent crude oil futures were down 65 cents, or 1.2%, at $55.34 a barrel by 0439 GMT, after having climbed to $56.39, their highest since Feb. 25, 2020. Brent rose in the previous four sessions.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) slipped 44 cents, or 0.8%, to $51.80 a barrel. WTI rose to its highest in nearly a year on Friday.
“Covid hot spots flaring again in Asia, with 11 million people (in) lockdowns in China’s Hebei province…along with a touch of Fed policy uncertainty, has triggered some profit taking out of the gates,” Stephen Innes, chief global market strategist at Axi, said in a note.
Mainland China saw its biggest daily increase in virus infections in more than five months, authorities said on Monday, as new infections rose in Hebei, which surrounds the capital, Beijing.
Shijiazhuang, the provincial capital and epicentre of the new outbreak, is in lockdown, with people and vehicles barred from leaving, as authorities seek to rein in the spread.
Most of Europe is now under the strictest restrictions, according to the Oxford stringency index, which tracks measures such as travel bans and school and workplace closures.