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Oil prices climbed on Monday as optimism about a strong rebound in fuel demand in developed countries and China in the second half of the year overshadowed growing concerns of a full lockdown in India to curb the COVID-19 pandemic.

Brent crude futures for July gained 36 cents, or 0.5%, to $67.12 a barrel by 0045 GMT while U.S. West Texas Intermediate for June was at $63.94 a barrel, up 36 cents, or 0.6%.

Vaccinations are expected to lift global oil demand, especially during peak travel season in the third quarter, prompting analysts to increase their forecasts for Brent prices for a fifth straight month, a Reuters poll showed.

The survey of 49 participants forecast that Brent would average $64.17 a barrel in 2021, up from last month’s consensus of $63.12 and the $62.30 average for the benchmark so far this year.

“Strong demand in regions such as North America, Europe and China has brightened the overall outlook,” ANZ analysts said in a note.

This was despite a call by a leading Indian industry body urging authorities to curtail economic activity to save lives on Sunday as the country battles surging coronavirus cases that have overwhelmed the healthcare system.

On supplies, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries pumped 25.17 million bpd in April, up 100,000 barrels from March, to as Iran and other producers increased output. OPEC’s production has risen every month since June 2020 with the exception of February.

Iran and the United States are in talks to revive a nuclear deal which could lead to a lifting of U.S. sanctions that would allow Iran to ramp up oil exports.

Washington on Sunday denied a report by Iran’s state television that the arch-foes had reached a prisoner swap deal in exchange for the release of $7 billion frozen Iranian oil funds under U.S. sanctions in other countries.

In the United States, energy firms added oil and natural gas rigs last week, leading to a ninth straight monthly rig count increase, as a recovery in prices lured some drillers back to the wellpad, according to Baker Hughes.

 

However, U.S. crude oil production dropped by over a million barrels per day in February, to the lowest levels since October, 2017, according to a monthly government report on Friday.

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