By Geoffrey Smith
Investing.com — Crude oil prices rose on Monday as fresh economic data from around the world supported expectations of a sustained recovery in demand – despite jitters about the spread of a new variant of the Covid-19 virus.
By 11:30 AM ET (1530 GMT), futures were up 1.0% at $66.03 a barrel, while futures were up 0.8% at $69.26 a barrel.
Crude remains essentially rangebound between $65 and $70 a barrel, with the market having found a broad equilibrium as OPEC and its allies gradually open their taps in response to a global economic recovery. However, near-term gains have been made easier by signs of profit-taking from financial players last week. CFTC data released on Friday showed hedge funds and other money managers sold the equivalent of 31 million barrels in the six main futures and options contracts in the week to May 11. They had bought a cumulative 102 million barrels over the previous four weeks.
Data published overnight, meanwhile, had shown Chinese refineries continuing to operate at an average daily throughput rate of over 14 million barrels a day, reassuring the market that the world’s second-biggest oil consumer remains in rude health – even if the year-on-year gains in industrial production are slowing.
In Europe, meanwhile, the U.K. took its biggest step back toward economic normality by lifting or relaxing a broad swath of restrictions on business and social activity in England. The lifting of a ban on non-essential international travel is part of that package of measures, something that should help restore demand for jet fuel in a region where it is still depressed.
The number of passengers using U.S. airports again hit a new post-pandemic high at the weekend, with 1.85 million people travelling on Sunday, according to the Transportation Security Administration. However, that’s still around one-third below pre-pandemic levels. Globally, the level of flight movements remains even below that.
A fresh indication of the difficulties in restoring international air travel came earlier on Monday when Hong Kong and Singapore again deferred the opening of an air corridor between their two cities, after the latter registered a new outbreak of Covid-19.
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