LONDON—Oil prices dropped below $79 a barrel on Friday as a fresh surge in COVID-19 cases in Europe threatened to slow the economic recovery while investors also weighed a potential release of crude reserves by major economies to cool energy prices. Brent crude was down $2.44, or 3 percent, at $78.80 a barrel by 1110 GMT, its lowest since early October, after earlier rising to as high as $82.24, extending volatility seen on Thursday. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude for December delivery was down $2.30, or 2.9 percent, at $76.72 a barrel. The WTI December contract expires on Friday and most trading activity has shifted to the January future, which was down 2.3 percent at $76.11 a barrel. Both Brent and WTI are set for a fourth week of declines. Austria became the first country in western Europe to reimpose a full coronavirus lockdown this autumn to tackle a …


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