Oil prices have fallen by 3% as investors have concerns about falling demand due to the rapid spread of coronavirus Covid-19 outbreak cases beyond China.
According to Reuters, Brent crude was down by $1.78 to $56.72 a barrel. US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures fell by $1.53 to $51.85 a barrel.
The death toll from the virus has increased to more than 2,600, as of the end of 23 February. The total number of recoveries rose to more than 24,900 globally.
However, infections have increased in some other parts of the world. South Korea and Italy are among the hard-hit regions.
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OANDA senior market analyst Edward Moya said: “Demand destruction for crude is likely to intensify as travel restrictions will likely increase as the coronavirus outbreak becomes a global threat and not just contained to China.
“Oil prices will remain vulnerable here as energy traders were not pricing in the coronavirus becoming a pandemic.”
Italy has now become the most affected country in Europe with more than 150 Covid-19 cases. It has also reported its third death from the virus.
Iran was the first to report deaths in the Middle East region. The country has recorded eight deaths and 43 infections as of 23 February.
Meanwhile, in China, local health officials said that Yunnan, Guangdong, Shanxi and Guizhou provinces saw a drop in new infections. These provinces have lowered their virus emergency response measures. This news has offered some support to oil prices.
Chinese President Xi Jinping said that China will adjust its policy to tackle economic damage caused by the outbreak. Chinese are still attempting to control the spread of the virus.