Oil falls on demand concerns

Oil prices fell on Wednesday as concerns over how quickly fuel demand will recover tempered an easing of lockdowns to halt the spread of coronavirus, while U.S.-China tensions added to negative sentiment.,

Brent crude futures fell 50 cents, or 1.4%, to $35.67 by 0628 GMT. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were down 52 cents, or 1.5%, at $33.83 a barrel.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and producers including Russia, a grouping referred to as OPEC+, are cutting their output by nearly 10 million barrels per day in May-June to buttress prices as measures to rein in the coronavirus pandemic have slashed fuel demand.

In the United States, where some states are opening up after lockdowns, optimism about an increase in demand has supported sentiment, but the recovery is fragile, analysts caution. The Memorial Day holiday just passed typically heralds the start of the peak U.S. demand season.

“Early estimates suggest gasoline demand is down by as much as 30% from last year as people stay close to home,” ANZ Research said in a note.

Some analysts and banks are predicting a balanced oil market as soon as June, but that could be too optimistic, according to Eurasia Group.

“There is … a significant risk of repeat outbreaks and lockdowns,” it said in a note.

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