Many major cities in Europe and Asia have started to see the return of the rush-hour congestions in recent weeks, suggesting that people are using their cars more to travel to work and drop children off at school. This rise in traffic in cities such as London point to a mixed picture of global road fuel demand, Javier Blas of Bloomberg News reports, citing data from navigation company TomTom International.

Traffic in parts of Europe and Asia is nearly back to the levels seen before the pandemic, while North and South America are not seeing much rush-hour traffic yet.

In the UK, for example, some cities are already seeing rush-hour traffic return to levels seen last year, according to data analyzed by The Times. The UK is encouraging people and companies to return to offices to help the economy.

Some companies in Europe are paying employees cash to use their own vehicles or take a cab to their workplaces. This week, traffic in London and Paris was at its highest since March, while traffic has also surged in recent weeks in major cities such as Munich, Berlin, and Vienna.

While traffic in major cities in Europe and China is now just 15 percent below levels seen last year, in the U.S., Canada, and South America, city traffic is still 50 percent off last year’s levels, according to Bloomberg estimates of data from TomTom.

Given the large share of the U.S. of global road fuel consumption, the muted traffic in U.S. cities is a concern about the global oil demand recovery.

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This recovery appears to have stalled, and the end of the driving season in the United States and upcoming refinery maintenance do not bode well for oil demand in the coming months either.

The faltering oil demand recovery in recent weeks has soured sentiment on the market, sending oil prices tumbling earlier this week.  

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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