Futures Movers: Oil prices inch higher Friday but set to post a weekly loss amid lingering worries about coronavirus impacts

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Oil futures saw muted gains on Friday as a record rise in coronavirus cases in the U.S. and growing infections in parts of the world signaled a hard slog for a fuller recovery in crude-oil ddemand over the longer term.

“The oil demand recovery story was dealt a blow this week after the US registered the biggest-ever jump in coronavirus cases, suggesting many states may have to visit regional lockdowns soon,” wrote Edward Moya, senior market analyst at Oanda, in a Friday research note.

U.S. states, including Arizona, Texas, South Carolina and Florida, saw confirmed cases rise by more than 30% over the past week, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University.

West Texas Intermediate crude for August CLQ20, -0.05% picked up 13 cents, or 0.3%, at $38.85 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, following a 1.9% gain on Thursday.

CLQ20, -0.05% Global benchmark Brent oil for August delivery BRNQ20, +0.53% added 29 cents, or 0.7%, to reach $41.41 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe, after a 1.8% advance in the previous session.

For the week, WTI is looking at a 2.3% weekly decline, while Brent is on track for a drop of 1.8%, based on the most-active contract’s close last Friday.

Helping providing some grist for the bulls was a report from Reuters, using satellite data, pointing to a pick up in traffic in China, Europe and the U.S., that could be upbeat for energy uptake. However, that contrast with a survey of economists by Reuters that indicates expectations for a deeper global recession than earlier estimates, which could ultimately prove a headwind for oil prices in the future.

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