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James Hyerczyk
WTI and Brent Crude Oil

U.S. West Texas Intermediate and international-benchmark Brent crude oil futures are edging lower late in the session on Thursday as concerns about renewed coronavirus lockdowns in the United States outweighed signs of a recovery in U.S. fuel demand.

Buyers also took profits ahead of a meeting on July 15 of the market monitoring panel of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies.

At 20:50 GMT, August WTI crude oil is trading $39.60, down $1.29 or -3.15%. September Brent crude oil is at $42.40, down $1.89 or 2.06%.

The new worries about fuel demand surfaced just one day after data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration showed U.S. gasoline stockpiles fell by 4.8 million barrels last week, much more than analysts expected, as demand hit its highest level since March 20.

Investors are starting to lighten up on the long side because they feel support will disappear after this week as coronavirus cases are surging in several U.S. states. A spike in coronavirus cases across several U.S. states raised the prospect of renewed lockdowns and other restrictions that would dent any sustained recovery in fuel demand.

Apple Maps Driving Activity is Slowing Again in Warning Sign for the Economy:  CNBC

As coronavirus cases surge across the United States, Apple Maps data shows a slowdown in requests for driving directions, a potential warning sign as the country works to restart the economy amid the pandemic.

The four states that are the leaders in average daily new reported cases over the past week, according to Johns Hopkins University data – Florida, Texas, California, and Arizona – have each seen a recent decline in driving directions requests.

While the Apple mobility data is just one signal that may provide insight into what the future will bring for the U.S. economic comeback, it’s an example of the kind of “high-frequency” indicators some investors are keeping an eye on.

Economic data reports typically lag by a month or so, and may not capture the most recent developments caused by the fast-moving virus.

June’s job report, for example, showed promising employment gains but did not account for the recent resurgence in coronavirus cases due to the timing of the government survey.

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Russia Does Not Plan Saudi Talks Ahead of OPEC+ Monitoring Meeting:  Kremlin

The Kremlin said on Thursday Russia currently had no plans to hold talks with Saudi Arabia ahead of a joint OPEC+ ministerial monitoring committee meeting due to be held next week, Reuters in Moscow reported.

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