Title: Oil prices head for weekly loss on Omicron uncertainty
Dec 17, 2021 07:40AM ET
Oil prices fell on Friday, putting the market on course for a weekly loss as rising cases of the Omicron coronavirus variant raised fears that new restrictions could hit fuel demand.
Brent crude futures fell $1.26, or 1.6 percent, to $73.76 a barrel at 1206 GMT, while WTI crude futures fell $1.23, or 1.7 percent, to $71.15 a barrel. Both Brent and WTI are set to post a loss of 1.7% this week.
In Denmark, South Africa, and the UK, the number of new Omicron cases has doubled every two days. Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen warned on Thursday that the government could impose additional restrictions to curb the spread.
In the United States, the rapid spread of the Omicron variant has prompted some companies to put plans to send employees back to the office on hold.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, Russia and their allies, known collectively as OPEC+, have said they may meet before their scheduled meeting on January 4 if changes in demand forecasts warrant a review of their plans to increase output by 400,000 barrels a day in January.
But despite the Omicron threats to demand, Goldman Sachs said on Friday that the new variant had limited impact on mobility or oil demand, adding that it expected oil consumption to reach record highs in 2022 and 2023.
Due to improved supply, oil prices have also retreated from their multi-year highs at the start of the fourth quarter.