Oil Eases From Nine-month High

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Oil prices fell on Friday but stayed within touching distance of nine-month highs reached in the previous session on optimism over the rollout of vaccines and the release of bullish inventory report.

Benchmark Brent crude slipped 0.2 percent to $51.41 a barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were little changed at $48.35.

Caution prevailed amid fresh U.S.-China tensions, doubts over a post-Brexit trade deal and the months-long stalemate on an economic aid package in the United States.

The United States is adding dozens of Chinese companies, including the country’s top chipmaker SMIC, to a trade blacklist today, Reuters reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

Hopes of a post-Brexit trade deal dimmed as Britain and European Union negotiators played down expectations a deal will be reached.

Speaking in the European Parliament, Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator said it was “the moment of truth” for the two sides to come to an agreement.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said bridging “big differences”, particularly on fishing rights, would be “very challenging” while Prime Minister Boris Johnson said discussions were in a “serious situation”.

On the stimulus front, U.S. lawmakers continued negotiations to clinch a deal for a new stimulus package, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell saying talks could spill into the weekend.

On the positive side, an U.S. FDA panel recommended emergency approval of Moderna vaccine, paving the way for six million doses to start shipping as soon as this weekend.

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