Crude oil prices dropped lower rising Coronavirus cases and tighter restrictions in Europe and China fuelled worries over a slower recovery in fuel demand. However while much of the world struggles with the resurgent coronavirus and the economic pain that comes with it, China has recorded a positive growth rate for 2020, likely making it the only large economy to do so. But with many of its export markets now facing renewed restrictions as their COVID-19 cases rise, some analysts have predicted China may not be able to sustain the rapid rebound it posted late last year. For the whole of 2020, gross domestic product (GDP) expanded by 2.3 percent compared with 2019, according to figures published on Monday by China’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), faster than the 1.9 percent growth rate projected by the International Monetary Fund in its October 2020 forecast.
After the virus emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019, it quickly spread, forcing authorities to lock down much of the country and its economy. GDP shrank by 6.8 percent in the first quarter of last year compared with the same period in 2019 but, as lockdowns were lifted, it rebounded by 3.2 percent in the second quarter. It accelerated to 4.9 percent and then 6.5 percent in the third and fourth quarters of 2020 respectively. Encouraging gross domestic product (GDP) and industrial production data from China helped to limit the downside to some extent.
Brent crude for March delivery eased 0.2 per cent to 54.98 dollars a barrel, after falling 2.3 per cent on Friday. Similarly, U.S. oil futures were down by 0.1 per cent at 52.36 dollars after falling more than 2 per cent in the previous session. The total number of global Coronavirus cases topped 95 million, while the death toll surpassed 2 million. China reported more than 100 new COVID-19 cases for the sixth consecutive day, while the number of hospitalised COVID-19 patients with serious symptoms in Japan topped 970, marking a record high since the onset of the pandemic in the country.
Portugal imposed a new nationwide lockdown, while the British government announced that it will close all travel corridors from Monday in order to restrict the spread of new Coronavirus variant cases. New Coronavirus infections have been decreasing in Germany but the country’s health minister said that more needed to be done to bring it permanently under control. Chancellor Angela Merkel and Germany’s 16 state premiers will discuss what to do next on Tuesday.