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Crude oil dips as pandemic concerns weigh on outlook

Crude oil futures were lower during mid-morning trade in Asia Oct. 22, as sentiment was impacted by pandemic concerns which could weigh on demand outlook.

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At 11:15 am Singapore time (0315 GMT), the ICE December Brent futures contract was down 36 cents/b (0.43%) from the previous close at $84.25/b, while the NYMEX November light sweet crude contract fell 29 cents/b (0.35%) at $82.21/b.

Oil prices slid after Russia announced the implementation of pandemic-related restrictions in Moscow as COVID-19 infections and deaths have spiked. Russian president Vladimir Putin Oct. 20 approved a "non-working week" from Oct. 30-Nov. 7 to help slow the spread of the virus.

"Crude oil prices lost momentum as sentiment was hurt by concerns that the emergence of restrictions and lockdowns in Russia and eastern Europe due to rising coronavirus cases could threaten the global economic recovery and crude oil demand," ANZ research analysts said Oct 22.

Brent crude had traded as high as $86.10/b late Oct. 21 before falling off this high, similar to what had occurred on Oct. 18, when the contract surged to $86.04/b before settling lower on the day.

NYMEX November ULSD fell 1.48 cents to $2.5343/gal, while November RBOB dipped 2.13 cents to $2.4588/gal.

Despite this fall, some analysts remain bullish about the outlook for the market.

"There may be some concerns on the pandemic, but the general shift in direction for the global economy towards more reopening seems to be ingrained in markets, supported by ongoing vaccination progress," IG Market Strategist Yeap Jun Rong told S&P Global Platts Oct. 22.

Yeap added that some investors may be taking the opportunity to buy on weakness as the tightness in the oil market persists amid lower inventories, OPEC+ stance on hold and fuel switching from natural gas.

ING research analysts shared this sentiment and highlighted that taking into account inventories drawn for the remainder of this year, along with OPEC+'s cautious approach in increasing output, oil prices will remain well supported for the rest of this year.