Oil Slips as Chinese Lockdowns, U.S. Data Temper Gains

Oil prices were lower on Friday as concerns about Chinese cities in lockdown due to coronavirus outbreaks tempered a rally driven by strong import data from the worlds biggest crude importer and U.S. plans for a large stimulus package.

Brent was down 46 cents, or 0.8, at 55.96 by 0544 GMT, after gaining 0.6 on Thursday. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude was 29 cents, or 0.5, lower at 53.28 a barrel, having risen more than 1 the previous session.

Brent is heading for the first weekly decline in three weeks, while U.S. crude is on track for a third weekly gain.

While producers are facing unparalleled challenges balancing supply and demand equations with calculus involving vaccine rollouts versus lockdowns, financial contracts have been boosted by strong equities and a weaker dollar, which makes oil cheaper, along with strong Chinese demand.

A nearly 2 trillion COVID19 relief package in the U.S. unveiled by Presidentelect Joe Biden may increase oil demand from the worlds biggest crude consumer but worse than expected jobs data cast a shadow over the plans.

With the Biden package offset by weak U.S. employment data, markets in Asia are disinclined to force prices, said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at OANDA.

They will leave it to North America to decide if a retest of the recent highs is justified into the end of the week, he said.

Crude imports into China were up 7.3 in 2020, with record arrivals in two out of four quarters as refineries increased runs and…

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