Oil falls as surge in stockpiles raise COVID-19 demand concerns

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Oil prices dropped for a third consecutive day on Tuesday as a spike in U.S. crude stockpile raised demand fears after Germany and France planned to stop COVID-19 vaccinations.

Brent crude dropped 0.7%, or 49 cents, at $68.39 per barrel following a 0.5% decline in the last session. U.S. crude fell 0.7%, or 47 cents, at $64.92 per barrel after losing 0.3% on Monday.

France, Germany, and Italy plan to halt AstraZeneca PLC COVID-19 vaccinations after reports of potential serious side effects. However, the World Health Organization said there was no determined connection to the vaccine.

These moves are raising concerns over slow vaccination rollouts in Europe, which could delay economic recovery.

The pandemic heavily hit oil demand but prices have recovered to level ahead of the global health crisis, only to be capped on slow vaccination rollouts.

Elsewhere, U.S. stockpiles rose due to last month’s winter storm that stopped refining operations. Crude stocks rose by 12.8 million barrels in the week ended March 5, contrary to analysts’ expectations for a less than 1 million-barrel increase. 

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