UPDATE 8-Oil ends lower, retreating from recent gains as COVID cases rise

Reuters

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    * U.S. crude stockpiles drop, fuel inventories build -EIA
    * Saudi Aramco cuts Feb supply to some Asian refiners
-sources
    * Europe extends lockdowns, with fingers crossed for
vaccines
    * China COVID-19 cases rise, millions more placed under
lockdown

 (New throughout; updates prices, market activity and comments
to settlement)
    By Laila Kearney
    NEW YORK, Jan 13 (Reuters) - Oil prices fell on Wednesday,
pulling back from recent gains, on concerns that rising global
COVID-19 will hamper global fuel demand.
    The market did find some support from weekly inventory
figures that showed a drop in crude inventories and rising
refinery production. 
    Brent crude prices  LCOc1  settled at $56.06 a barrel, down
52 cents, or 0.9%. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI)  CLc1 
settled at $52.91 a barrel, falling 30 cents, or 0.6%. 
    Fuel demand has rebounded from last spring's shock falloff
as the COVID-19 pandemic worsened, but governments continue to
place restrictions on travel that will restrain energy demand
for months, analysts said.
    "While I see crude prices trading higher over the coming
months, investors need to be mindful that the road to higher oil
demand and prices will remain bumpy," UBS oil analyst Giovanni
Staunovo said.
    U.S. crude inventories were lower for a fifth straight week,
dropping by 3.2 million barrels last week, exceeding analysts'
expectations in a Reuters poll for a 2.3 million-barrel drop, as
refiners increased crude runs, the Energy Information
Administration said.  EIA/S 
    "The refiners are starting to see a better demand picture
and that's being reflected not just what we're seeing in the
United States but also overseas," said Phil Flynn, senior
analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago. 
    Governments across Europe announced tighter and longer
coronavirus lockdowns on Wednesday due to a fast-spreading COVID
variant first detected in Britain and as vaccinations are not
expected to help much for another two to three months.
 urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL8N2JO36E
    China recorded the biggest daily jump in coronavirus cases
in more than five months, despite lockdowns, increased testing
and other measures aimed at preventing another wave of
infections.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL1N2JO02O
    Saudi Arabia cut supplies of crude for February loading for
at least three Asian buyers, while meeting requirements of at
least four others, several refinery and trade sources told
Reuters.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL1N2JO09N

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CHART: U.S. oil may extend gains into $54.19-$55.02 range    
 urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL1N2JO06A
CHART: Brent oil may extend gains into $57.76-$58.17 range -   
 urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL1N2JO04W
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 (Additional reporting by Ahmad Ghaddar in London and Aaron
Sheldrick in TOKYO; Editing by Marguerita Choy and David
Gregorio)
 ((Laila.kearney@thomsonreuters.com; (917) 809-0054))

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