REUTERS

Oil prices eased on Friday but stayed within touching distance of nine-month highs hit in the previous session as soaring COVID-19 cases weigh on fuel demand and U.S. lawmakers battle over a $900 billion economic stimulus package.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures slipped 17 cents or 0.4%, to $48.19 a barrel at 0513 GMT, while Brent crude futures fell 26 cents, or 0.5%, to $51.24 a barrel, as reported by Reuters.

More than 73.65 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 1,654,920 have died, according to a Reuters tally on Friday.

Read alsoRussia's Nord Stream 2 never be launched with new U.S. sanctions – U. S. SenatorThe spike in cases is leading to tough restrictions on travel, weighing on near-term fuel demand and market sentiment, analysts said.

Both contracts had climbed on Thursday, on optimism around progress on a COVID-19 relief bill, strong Asian refining demand and a slide in the U.S. dollar to a two-and-a-half year low. With oil priced in dollars, a weaker greenback makes oil cheaper in other currencies.

OPEC+ plans to add 500,000 barrels per day of supply to the market in January, in the first step toward returning 2 million bpd to the market.

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