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PETROLEUM-Barrel falls as number of COVID-19 infections overshadows vaccine optimism

FILE PHOTO: Image of crude oil being pumped into a field near Calgary, Canada.  July 21, 2014. REUTERS / Todd Korol FILE PHOTO: Image of crude oil being pumped into a field near Calgary, Canada. July 21, 2014. REUTERS / Todd Korol

By Shadia Nasralla

LONDON, Nov 19 (.) – Oil futures were lower on Thursday as a surge in coronavirus cases and tighter economic strains around the world hurt fuel demand expectations, also sending stocks down to world level.

* Benchmark Brent futures were down 27 cents at $ 44.07 a barrel at 0911 GMT. The West Texas Intermediate contract, meanwhile, was down 43 cents at $ 41.39 a barrel.

* A rising dollar made oil more expensive for holders of other currencies.

* US crude inventories rose 768,000 barrels last week, less than the 1.7 million barrels analysts expected in a . poll, government data showed.

* The death toll in the United States from COVID-19 surpassed 250,000 on Wednesday, when New York City closed public schools.

* In Asia, Tokyo recorded its highest level of coronavirus alert on Thursday, as its daily count of new infections reached a record 534 cases.

* Russia surpassed 2 million coronavirus cases after reporting record daily increases in infections and deaths related to the disease.

* Concerns about economic damage related to the coronavirus overshadowed optimistic news that Pfizer and BioNTech will seek clearance in the United States and Europe for their COVID-19 vaccines next month.

(Additional reporting by Yuka Obayashi in Tokyo; Edited in Spanish by Javier Leira)