(Bloomberg) Oil was steady as investors assessed the near-term demand outlook after prices fell the most since October last week.Brent futures rose 0.2% on Monday after falling 6.8% last week. Demand is showing some signs of weakness with the number of unsold April-loading oil cargoes from West Africa piling up. In Europe, new virus restrictions are expanding in France and Italy, while Germany is proposing an extension to lockdown measures.However, there’s continued optimism over consumption in the U.S. as the Biden administration unleashes a wave of stimulus. The number of passengers checking through airport security in the country has been above 1 million people every day since March 10. That could provide support for jet fuel, the worst-hit oil product during the coronavirus crisis.
As crude plunged last week, the total number of futures contracts held by traders plunged about 7% — a sign that many in the market fled for the exit. Others are confident about the long-term outlook and a return to higher prices. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said the recent sell-off was transient and that the market rebalancing would continue with vaccinations driving higher mobility.
“Market players have been guilty of living in the future,” said Stephen Brennock an analyst at brokerage PVM Oil Associates Ltd. “Those of a bullish disposition have been looking ahead at a summer rebound in oil demand. Yet currently there has been no concrete sign of a meaningful jump.”
Brent rose 12 cents to $64.65 a barrel at 10:15 a.m. in London
West Texas Intermediate for April delivery, which expires Monday, lost 0.5% to $61.10
The more-active May contract gained 0.2% to $61.59
Since crude’s slump last week attention is also growing on the amount of oil Iran — currently under U.S. sanctions — is exporting, particularly to China. The world’s largest importer released data showing it received no Iranian crude for the first time in months, a sign supplies could be masked as originating from other countries.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, meanwhile, said his country was in no hurry to revive the nuclear deal, although he reiterated that Tehran was still prepared to return to the original terms of the agreement once the U.S. has lifted sanctions.
Other oil-marker news:
Saudi Aramco’s $75 billion dividend survived one of the biggest disruptions to oil markets in decades as the pandemic and a price war sent crude prices tumbling last year.
A pick-up in U.S. spring-break travel is pointing to the first signs of life for a battered jet fuel market, a trend that is likely to continue as more vaccinated Americans venture back onto airplanes this summer.
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