Oil prices have inched higher as hopes that OPEC+ will hold current supply cuts ‘offset concerns over weaker fuel demand’ due to the rising number of Covid-19 infections.

Data showing a rebound in Chinese and Japanese economies also contributed to the change in prices.

Brent crude futures rose by $0.54 to reach $43.32 a barrel, while US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures were increased by $0.63 to $40.76, Reuters reported.

OCBC economist Howie Lee was quoted by the news agency as stating: “Fundamentally China’s numbers do support why oil prices can keep at these levels.”

Both the Brent and the WTI Benchmarks gained more than 8% last week on positive news of Covid-19 vaccine trials.

Last week’s prices were also supported on hopes that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, and allies, including Russia, together known as OPEC+, will maintain lower output until next year so as to support prices.

OPEC+ is currently cutting production by about 7.7Mbpd until December to support prices.

The group intends to ramp up output by 2Mbpd from January next year.

Meanwhile, a slower pace in traffic across Europe and the US dented recovery hopes of fuel demand this winter.

ANZ analysts said: “European motorway traffic is down almost 50% in recent weeks in some countries (such as France) as lockdown measures are increased.”

Data released by the American energy services firm Baker Hughes showed that the operating US oil and natural gas rigs count rose to its highest in the last week since May.