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Oil prices deep amid COVID-19

Oil prices dropped on Monday on a record daily rise in global coronavirus cases with big spikes in infections over the weekend in the United States while traders await an OPEC technical meeting expected to recommend an easing of supply cuts.

Brent crude fell 53 cents, or 1.2%, to $42.71 a barrel by 0946 GMT, though prices have been hovering around $42 for a couple of weeks. U.S. crude was down 64 cents, or 1.6%, at $39.91.

The World Health Organization reported a record daily increase in global coronavirus cases on Sunday, with the total up by more than 230,000.

In the United States, infections surged over the weekend as Florida reported an increase of more than 15,000 new cases in 24 hours, a record for any state.

Oil traders also remained on edge as the Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee (JMMC) of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) prepares to meet on Tuesday and Wednesday to recommend levels for future supply cuts.

OPEC and allies including Russia, a group known as OPEC+, are expected to ease their production cuts to 7.7 million barrels per day (bpd) after a recovery in global oil demand. OPEC+ cut output by a record 9.7 million bpd for May, June and July.

Libya, meanwhile, re-imposed force majeure on all oil exports on Sunday because of a renewed blockade by eastern forces. The move comes only two days after Libya exported its first crude cargo in six months.

The military of Yemen’s Houthi group said it had attacked a large oil facility in an industrial zone in the southern Saudi city of Jizan, but oil prices were not greatly affected by the news.

Rising tension between the United States and China over the COVID-19 pandemic and other issues also pressured prices.

China on Monday announced sanctions against U.S. officials and entities in retaliation for Washington’s sanctions against senior Chinese officials.

U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday said he was not thinking about negotiating a Phase 2 trade deal with China.

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