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Oil prices stable as positive Covid news balances curbs


Oil prices were broadly stable on Thursday as signs the worst effects of the Omicron coronavirus variant might be fairly containable were countered by new curbs amid surging case numbers.

Brent crude futures was up $0.19, or 0.3%, to $75.48 a barrel at 1109 GMT, after a 1.8% gain in the previous session.

US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up $0.05, or 0.1%, at $72.81 a barrel after jumping 2.3% in the previous session.

The big gains on Wednesday were partly spurred by a larger-than-expected drawdown in US crude stockpiles last week.  

Also supporting bulls, the United States authorised Pfizer’s antiviral Covid-19 pill for people aged 12 and older, the first oral and at-home treatment as well as a new tool against the fast-spreading Omicron variant.  

Meanwhile, AstraZeneca said a three-dose course of its Covid-19 vaccine is effective against the Omicron variant, citing data from an Oxford University lab study.  

On the flip side, governments reimposed a range of restrictions to slow the spread of Omicron.

The Chinese city of Xian on Wednesday ordered its 13 million residents to stay home, while Scotland imposed gathering limits from December 26 for up to three weeks, and two Australian states reimposed mask mandates.  

However, fears over the potential impact of mobility restrictions on fuel demand have receded because the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Russia and allies have left the door open to reviewing their plan to add 400,000 barrels per day of supply in January.

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