Oil prices have edged-up on hopes that fuel demand will pick up as some countries started easing coronavirus lockdown measures that were put in place to contain the spread of the outbreak.

US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures increased $0.45, or 1.9%, to $24.00 a barrel, at 0447 GMT, while Brent crude LCOc1 futures were up by $0.42 to $29.88 a barrel at this time, Reuters reported.

Both Brent and WTI futures are heading towards a second week of gains after record lows last month, when US oil crashed below zero on 21 April.

Brent is up by 13%, while WTI futures are about 21% higher.

Australia, France, some parts of the US and Pakistan are easing the lockdown restrictions as infections from the virus are slowing.

National Australia Bank commodities research head Lachlan Shaw was quoted by the news agency as saying: “Oil is rallying on expectations of better demand. There are green shoots there but I think the market will need to see those broaden and extend to sustain the rally.”

Meanwhile, on the supply front, oil producers in North America are curbing production quicker than OPEC officials.

They are currently on track to cut about 1.7 million barrels per day (bpd) of output by the end of next month.

Shaw added: “The supply cuts we have seen announced, particularly in North America, are also giving the market confidence.”

Citing real-time data provider Genscape data, traders said that the US crude inventories at the Cushing storage hub in Oklahoma increased by about 407,000 barrels in the week until 05 May.

Data estimates released by industry group US Energy Information Administration (EIA) highlighted an increase in gasoline by about 6.7 million bpd last week.