From the Field
Oil prices down as fears of virus outweigh crude inventory data
LONDON, February 27, 2020 – Oil prices were down on Thursday in Asia as virus fears outweighed inventory data that showed stockpiles of US crude oil rose less than traders expected last week.
US Crude Oil WTI Futures lost 1.5% to $48.00 by 12:14 AM ET (04:14 GMT). International Brent Oil Futures were down 1.4%.
Oil inventories climbed by 452,000 barrels for the week ended Feb. 21, the Energy Information Administration said. That compared with expectations for a build of 2 million barrels, according to forecasts compiled by Investing.com.
Gasoline inventories dropped by 2.7 million barrels, versus forecasts for a decline of about 2.25 million barrels. Distillate stockpiles fell by 2.1 million barrels, compared with expectations for a drawdown of 1.71 million barrels.
The oil markets initially gained following the positive crude inventories data, but began to trade lower amid fears about the new coronavirus, which continue to spread outside of China.
The number of new coronavirus infections outside China exceeded the number reported in China for the first time ever today, the World Health Organizations said.
“The market gave up its gains after another spike in global reports of Covid-19 cases made clear to investors that a pandemic largely confined to China until last month was now becoming a global problem,” said Barani Krishnan, commodity analyst at Investing.com.
US President Donald Trump scheduled a news conference later in the day, after tweeting earlier that the “fake news” media was hyping the pandemic and that the risk from coronavirus remained “very low”.
Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed the first possible community transmission of the coronavirus in America today.
“At this time, the patient’s exposure is unknown,” the CDC said in a statement. “It’s possible this could be an instance of community spread of COVID-19, which would be the first time this has happened in the United States.”