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Oil Edges Higher In Choppy Trade

Oil prices were flat to slightly higher on Monday, after having hit seven-week lows earlier on concerns about excess supply and weak demand.

Benchmark Brent crude futures edged up 14 cents, or 0.2 percent, to $79.03 a barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up 18 cents, or 0.2 percent, at $76.12.

Japan is considering releasing oil from its reserves along with the United States and other countries to help curb rising crude oil prices, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Saturday.

"We are considering what we can do," Kishida told reporters in Matsuyama, Ehime Prefecture, when asked about the possibility.

China also said it intends to release some reserves as the White House pressed the OPEC producer group again to boost output.

Meanwhile, the prospect of national lockdowns in Europe has raised concerns about economic and oil demand growth.

Austria closed shops, restaurants and festive markets in the most dramatic Covid-19 restriction seen in Western Europe for months.

As Europe becomes the center of the Covid-19 pandemic again, politicians in Germany are debating similar measures.

The fifth-wave coronavirus infections in France are rising at an alarming rate, the government reported on Sunday, with new daily virus cases close to doubling over the past week.

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