TOKYO: Oil prices fell more than 1% on Monday, dropping for a third session, as government-imposed restrictions on mobility to counter the spread of the Delta variant raised worries about a recovery in fuel demand.
Brent crude was down 80 cents, or 1.1%, at $69.79 a barrel by 0046 GMT, after edging lower last week. U.S. oil fell by 81 cents, or 1.2%, to $67.63 a barrel, having risen slightly last week.
“Crude oil remained under pressure as the fast spreading Delta variant of the coronavirus casts a cloud over the outlook for demand,” ANZ Research said in a note.
Official data from China on retail sales, industrial production and urban investment is expected to show that a recent tightening of coronavirus restrictions prompted declines in activity in the world’s second-biggest economy in July.
In Japan, the world’s fourth-biggest importer of crude oil, many analysts expect modest economic growth in the current quarter as state of renewed emergency restrictions to deal with record cases of infections weigh on household spending.
The International Energy Agency on Thursday said rising demand for crude oil reversed course in July and was expected to increase at a slower rate over the rest of 2021 because of surging COVID-19 infections from the Delta strain.
Money managers reduced their net long U.S. crude futures and options holdings in the week to Aug. 10, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) said on Friday.
Speculators also cut their futures and options positions in New York and London by 21,777 contracts to 283,601 over the period, the CFTC said.