Oil falls on COVID-19 surge

Oil prices fell on Friday, pressured by fears about a slow recovery in the global economy and fuel demand due to rising COVID-19 infections, but the market remained on track for a second straight weekly gain, helped by hopes for a vaccine.

Brent crude was down 51 cents, or 1.2%, at $43.02 a barrel as of 0741 GMT, after dropping 0.6% on Thursday. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures fell 66 cents, or 1.6%, to $40.46 a barrel, having lost 0.8% on Thursday.

Oil prices are expected to stay under pressure next week if the spread of the pandemic continues to accelerate in many parts of the world.

New coronavirus infections in the United States and elsewhere are at record levels and tightening restrictions to contain the spread have dampened the prospect of a near-term end to the global health crisis.