IZMIR, Turkey

Oil prices increased on Friday as hopes of quicker fuel demand recovery increased with the easing of lockdowns and restrictions and swift vaccine rollouts in some countries while concerns over rising coronavirus cases in India and Japan continues to put pressure on the prices.

International benchmark Brent crude was trading at $65.81 per barrel at 0646 GMT for a 0.62% increase after closing Thursday at $65.40 a barrel.

American benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) was at $61.97 per barrel at the same time for a 0.87% rise after it ended the previous session at $61.43 a barrel.

The easing of lockdowns and restrictions in some countries and swift vaccine rollouts raised hopes for quicker fuel demand recovery in the US and Europe, which was the main driver in the upward trend in prices.

France is getting prepared for a gradual re-opening in May. Prime Minister Jean Castex said that the country past the dreaded third wave of the coronavirus pandemic and the overall health situation is improving.

Spain became one of the first European countries to begin administering the one-shot Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine on Thursday.

France will also start administering the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine for those older than 55 years of age during the weekend.

However, the prices are pressured by growing number of COVID-19 cases, especially in India, one of the world’s biggest oil importers. India registered fresh all-time highs Friday for coronavirus cases and deaths in the past 24 hours. The ministry said 332,730 new cases were recorded, taking the country’s total to over 16 million. The death toll reached 186,920, including 2,263 new fatalities.

Meanwhile, Japan is also getting prepared for a state of emergency in some parts of the country including Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, and Hyogo, between April 25 and May 11, which is set to affect nearly 25% of the country’s population.

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