Oil prices little changed, on track for third straight weekly gain

A pump jack operates at an oil extraction site in Cotulla, Texas, U.S., March 12, 2019. (AFP)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Oil prices were little changed on Friday, on track for a third consecutive weekly rise, but demand concerns stemming from surging coronavirus cases and renewed lockdowns in several countries capped any further gains.

The likelihood of an effective COVID-19 vaccine and hopes that OPEC and its allies would keep production under check has bolstered the oil markets this week, Reuters reported.

Brent crude LCOc1 futures were up 6 cents, or 0.114% to $44.26 a barrel at 0736 GMT.

The more active U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude contract CLc2 fell 3 cents, or 0.07%, to $41.71 a barrel. The WTI contract for November CLc1, which expires on Friday, was also flat at $41.74 per barrel.

The oil markets have trimmed their weekly gains “as virus surge throws a wet blanket over vaccine optimism,” said Stephen Innes, chief global market strategist at Axi, Reuters said.

“But it is all down to OPEC. No formal decision will be taken before the full OPEC+ ministerial meeting at the end of this month.”

OPEC+, a grouping that includes the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Russia and other producers, will discuss its output policy at a meeting on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, according to the news agency.

Although the persistent rise in COVID-19 cases continues to cast doubts on demand recovery, Brent spreads in 2021 have narrowed significantly as demand from Asia has been strong and markets remained hopeful that OPEC and its allies could extend their output cuts.

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