Crude oil prices started on a lower note in early trade on Monday with the rise in novel coronavirus (COVID-19) cases worldwide keeping oil demand weak. 

International benchmark Brent crude was trading at $42.88 per barrel at 0605 GMT for a 0.6% loss after it closed Friday at $43.14 a barrel, having recorded a daily 0.6% loss.

American benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) was at $40.52 a barrel at the same time for a 0.17% loss after it ended Friday at $40.59 per barrel with a 0.4% intraday decline.

The number of COVID-19 cases throughout the world was 14.4 million as of early Monday, according to John Hopkins University data. While the US had the most cases worldwide with approximately 3.7 million cases, Brazil had the second largest with almost 2.1 million cases, followed by India with over 1 million cases.

The rise in COVID-19 cases is weakening the world’s economic outlook and has hit oil demand, suggesting that global oil consumption would remain low for the remainder of the year, while curtailing prices.

On the supply side, with the number of oil rigs in the US posting a decline for the 18th consecutive week, a trend has been set that crude oil output from the world’s largest crude-producing country could continue its fall this year.

This signals that some of the glut of supply on the global oil market could be trimmed to provide relative relief on the pressure on crude prices.

The number of oil rigs in the US, an indicator of short-term production in the country, fell by 1 to 180 for the week ending July 17, from 181 the previous week, according to the latest data released by oilfield services company Baker Hughes on Friday.

Over the past 18 weeks, the decline in the oil rig count totaled 503, the data showed.

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