Brent Crude close to $80, as markets shrugs off Omicron

Brent crude oil traded at $80 per barrel on Tuesday, despite the rapid spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant. This was supported by supply shortages and expectations that U.S. inventories will fall this week.

Brent crude oil rose 1.3% to $79.64 per barrel or $1.04 by 1119 GMT. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude (WTI), rose $1.15 or 1.5% to $76.72.

Both contracts were at their highest point in a single month.

Giovanni Staunovo, a UBS oil analyst, stated that support comes from the high aggregated production interruptions in Ecuador and Libya as well as the expectation of a large drop in U.S. crude inventory.

Three oil producers declared force majeures for a portion of their oil production due to maintenance issues and shutting down oilfields.

A preliminary Reuters poll on Monday showed that U.S. crude oils inventories may have fallen for the fifth consecutive week, while gasoline inventories remained mostly unchanged last week.

The UK will not be subject to any COVID-19 restrictions for England before 2021 ends, Sajid Javid, the British health minister, said Monday. This was while the government waits for more evidence about whether the health system can handle high levels of infection.

The U.S. President Joe Biden has pledged to reduce the shortage of COVID-19 testing as Omicron variants threaten to overwhelm hospitals and to stifle travel plans.

Over the Christmas weekend, thousands of flights were cancelled in America due to Omicron-induced staff shortages.

China’s symptomatic coronavirus infections rose for the fourth consecutive day Monday. Xian reported more infections in a flare-up that has placed 13 million people in the city under lockdown.

Investors are awaiting OPEC+’s Jan. 4 meeting, at which the alliance will decide if it will proceed with a planned production rise of 400,000 barrels per hour in February.

Despite Omicron, OPEC+ held firm to its January production plans at its last meeting.

According to the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, money managers increased their net long U.S. crude options and futures positions during the week ending Dec. 21.

The speculator group increased its combined futures and options position in New York City and London by 4,634 contracts to 259,093 over the same period.

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