Brent crude futures fell 23 cents, or 0.3%, to $ 73.56 a barrel at 0542 GMT, after jumping 2.2% on Thursday. For the week, Brent had to end the week flat.
US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures fell 23 cents, or 0.3%, to $ 71.68 a barrel, after gaining 2.3% on Thursday. WTI was heading for a weekly loss of 0.2%.
Prices of oil and other riskier assets fell earlier in the week amid concerns over the economic impact of the surge in Delta variant COVID-19 cases in the United States, Britain, in Japan and elsewhere.
Benchmark contracts fell as low as $ 6 on Monday, but recouped all those losses as investors expect overall crude demand to remain strong, driven by continued lower oil inventories and higher rates. vaccination.
However, “the threat that the Delta variant will slow the global economic recovery is far from over,” said Vandana Hari, energy analyst at Vanda Insights.
“At the very least, the lingering concern will limit the rise in crude prices beyond current levels. At worst, it could come back to pulp prices again, ”Hari said.
Demand growth is expected to exceed new supply, following the agreement of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, known as OPEC +, to add 400,000 barrels per day every month of August to December.
“As demand continues, the market is starting to feel that the 400 kb / d increase in OPEC (OPEC +) will not be enough to keep the market in balance. Inventories continue to decline, both in the United States. United than in the OECD as a whole, ”ANZ Research analysts said in a note.
Analysts who increased the price forecast for the rest of the year said they saw increased vaccination rates limiting the impact of the surge in Delta variant infections.
“We continue to see oil prices rise in the second half of 2021, as oil demand grows outstrips supply,” said Vivek Dhar, commodities analyst at the Commonwealth Bank. The ABC sees Brent climb to $ 85 in the fourth quarter.