Oil Holds Near $43 as Laura’s Passing Brings Virus Back in Focus

Oil was little changed near $43 after the hurricane threat in the Gulf of Mexico eased and traders refocused on the broader outlook for demand as the coronavirus pandemic continues to hamper an economic recovery.

Futures in New York were stable, after easing 0.2% on Friday. Crude rose 1.5% for a fourth weekly gain last week as Laura shut in 84% of offshore production. Yet while the system was one of the most powerful hurricanes to ever hit Louisiana, facilities in southeast Texas avoided the worst of the storm, allowing infrastructure there to start the recovery process.

Meanwhile, the virus refuses to loosen its grip in some parts of the world. India recorded itsbiggest daily spike in cases, while there’s also been a surge in infections in upstate New York.

  • West Texas Intermediate for October rose 4 cents to $43.01 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange at 8:16 a.m. Sydney time.
    • October WTI dipped 7 cents to settle Friday at $42.97 a barrel.
  • Brent for November delivery was up 10 cents at $45.91 a barrel.

Refiners on the U.S. Gulf Coast halted around a third of gasoline and diesel production as Laura approached, yet the market impact wasrelatively muted. West Texas Intermediate crude futures started the week at $42.48 a barrel and ended it close to $43.

Explorers returned to parking more rigs in the U.S. last week as stagnant oil prices pushes the industry to curtail activity. The number of active oil rigs in U.S. fieldsfell by three to 180, according to Baker Hughes Co. data released Friday.

In another worrying sign for demand, the number of supertankers hauling crude to China slid to itslowest level since late March, according to ship-tracking data compiled by Bloomberg, evidence the Asian nation’s thirst for oil imports is waning.

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