Crude oil prices drifted lower on Monday, extending losses to a fifth straight session, as worries about the impact of the coronavirus outbreak in China on the global economy raised concerns about the outlook for energy demand.
Oil was also weighed down by higher crude inventories.
West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures for March ended down $1.05, or about 1.9%, at 53.14 a barrel, the lowest settlement price since October 15. Oil prices dropped to a low of $52.13 in the session.
Brent crude futures declined $1.53, or about 2.5%, to $59.16 a barrel.
On Friday, WTI Crude oil futures for March ended down $1.40, or about 2.5%, at $54.19 a barrel.
Oil prices declined despite Saudi Arabia saying it believes the crisis so far will have a “very limited impact” on consumption.
Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman Al-Saud said today the kingdom was closely monitoring developments in global oil markets resulting from “gloomy expectations” over the impact of the new coronavirus on the Chinese and global economy and oil market fundamentals.
He expressed confidence that the new virus would be contained. Markets are being “primarily driven by psychological factors and extremely negative expectations adopted by some market participants despite its very limited impact on global oil demand,” he said.
According to reports, the death toll from the coronavirus outbreak rose to 81 in China, with 2,800 confirmed cases. The virus has spread to more than ten countries, including the U.S., France, Australia and Canada.
China’s National Health Commission on Sunday said the new coronavirus is contagious even in its incubation period, which lasts up to 14 days, and that the virus’ ability to spread is getting stronger.
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