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WTI & Brent crude oil futures have been battered by the discovery of the new COVID variant in Africa, with broader risk appetite and worries over any related hit to crude demand weighing. WTI is $2.00 lower vs. Wednesday's settlement, while Brent is ~$1.60 worse off. This of course builds on the demand-side worries generated by the imposition of tighter COVID restrictions across several European nations in recent days. A quick reminder that the OPEC+ group will meet next week, with plenty of speculation already doing the rounds re: the potential for a tweak in the group's oil output policy in the wake of the recent coordinated inventory release from some of the large oil consuming nations (some source reports have pointed to the likelihood of no change in production, while others have suggested that the group will continue to lift oil output, as planned).