Oil prices were stable on Tuesday as concerns that a US stimulus package might hit snags and rising coronavirus cases countered bullish signals from better compliance with a supply cut deal and ongoing vaccine efforts. Brent crude was up 15 cents, or 0.3%, at $56.03 by 0930 GMT, while US crude rose 11 cents, or 0.2%, to $52.88. Both contracts rose nearly 1% on Monday and are set to post the third monthly rise in a row, trading near 11-month highs.
US Democrats are still trying to convince Republican lawmakers of the need for more stimulus, raising questions over when and in what form a package will be approved. Even as the pace of new infections falls in the United States, European nations have set tough restrictions to combat the spread of the coronavirus while vaccines are rolled out.
China is reporting rising COVID-19 cases, casting a pall over demand prospects in the world's largest energy consumer. Still, there are areas where demand for oil remains strong. In India, crude oil imports in December rose to their highest in more than two years as the easing of coronavirus restrictions boosted economic activity.
On the supply side, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies' compliance with pledged oil output curbs is averaging 85% in January, tanker tracker Petro-Logistics said on Monday. The findings suggest the group has improved compliance supply curb commitments.
Also, output from the giant Tengiz field in Kazakhstan was disrupted by a power cut on Jan. 17. "It appears that market players are cautiously sanguine about the producer group's market management strategy and therefore about the imminent depletion in global oil inventories," PVM analysts said.