Oil prices increased on Monday after tropical storm Sally headed towards the Gulf of Mexico threatening oil production in the area.

International benchmark Brent crude was trading at $39.88 per barrel at 0625 GMT for a 0.13% increase after closing Friday at $39.83 a barrel.

American benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) was at $37.45 a barrel at the same time for a 0.32% decrease after ending the previous session at $37.33 per barrel.

Having just recovered from tropical storm Laura, which brought a halt in production to many offshore platforms and oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico, the second storm-related shutdowns in the Gulf of Mexico exerted upward pressure on oil prices.

Oil companies including Chevron and Murphy Oil Corp. evacuated facilities on Saturday while Royal Dutch Shell, BHP, BP and Hess Corp made plans to take action if needed. The area comprises 17% of US total oil output and 5% of US natural gas production.

Prices were positively supported after British pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca announced its resumption of phase 3 trials of an antibody-drug to prevent and treat COVID-19.

Last week, the trials were suspended after a patient had come down with an undisclosed illness.

The number of COVID-19 cases worldwide is now over 29 million, according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University.

As the US leads the number of cases with more than 6.5 million as of Monday morning, India follows with over 4.8 million cases while Brazil trails with more than 4.3 million cases.

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