Oil prices steadied on Friday but were still set for weekly declines as inventories rose and record-breaking new coronavirus cases in the United States stoked concern about the pace of economic recovery and fuel demand.
Brent crude was up by 1 cent, or 0.02 percent, at $42.36 a barrel by 1338 GMT, and US oil was up 4 cents, or 0.1 percent, to $39.66 a barrel.
Brent was set for a weekly decline of almost 1 percent and US crude for a fall of almost 2 percent.
More than 60,500 new COVID-19 cases were reported in the United States on Thursday, setting a daily record. The tally was also the highest daily count yet for any country since the pathogen emerged in China late last year.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) bumped up its 2020 oil demand forecast on Friday, but warned that the spread of COVID-19 posed a risk to the outlook.
“While the oil market has undoubtedly made progress ... the large, and in some countries, accelerating number of COVID-19 cases is a disturbing reminder that the pandemic is not under control,” the IEA said.
Prices also dropped after Libya National Oil Corporation announced it had lifted its force majeure on all oil exports after a half-year blockade by eastern forces.
Meanwhile, oil inventories remain bloated due to the evaporation of demand for gasoline, diesel and other fuels during the initial outbreak.
“If we take a bigger picture view of the market, what stands out to us is that we have not yet seen much of a decline on the global inventory front,” JBC said.