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Oil Prices Tumble As Virus Cases Surge

Oil prices tumbled on Thursday as new lockdown measures being introduced across Europe to limit the spread of coronavirus threatened demand recovery.

Benchmark Brent crude fell 2.6 percent to $42.18 a barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were down 2.9 percent at $39.86.

With new cases hitting about 100,000 a day, Europe has by a wide margin overtaken the United States.

The European Commission warned today that EU governments were unprepared for the new surge of Covid-19 infections and urged states to adopt a common strategy for the new phase of the pandemic.

"While the evolution of the pandemic is getting back to March levels, our state of preparedness is not," the EU executive's vice-president Margaritis Schinas said.

European countries including Germany and Czech Republic reported single-day highs in new Covid-19 cases.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned there could be 19,200 infections per day if current trends continue.

France has declared a national state of health emergency, while in the U.K. and Ireland, scientific advisers have pushed for second national lockdowns.

The U.K. government has imposed tougher curbs on London in a bid to contain a spike in new cases.

Health minister Helen Whateley announced the news to London members of Parliament in a call, with Prime Minister Johnson expected to confirm it in a statement later in the day.

The International Energy Agency said on Wednesday that a second wave of coronavirus infections could complicate efforts by producers to balance the market.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration is due to release its weekly inventory data later today, a day later than normal following a public holiday.

On Wednesday, the American Petroleum Institute reported a decline of 5.4 million barrels in U.S. crude supplies for the week ended October 9.

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