From the Field
Oil prices mixed as traders monitor coronavirus situation
LONDON, February 3, 2020 – Oil prices were mixed on Monday in Asia as traders continued to monitor the coronavirus situation in China.
US Crude Oil WTI Futures inched up 0.1% to $51.59 by 1:55 AM ET (03:55 GMT). International Brent Oil Futures were down 0.5% to $56.34.
Brent posted a monthly loss of just over 14% for January, its biggest slide since November 2018, when it lost 22%. WTI fell nearly 16% on the month, its worst since May.
The losses came amid fears about lowered demand from top buyer China, which was crippled by the coronavirus crisis. The death toll from the new coronavirus rose to 361 in China on Monday while confirmed cases increased to 17,205, according to data released by Chinese authorities.
Last week, the World Health Organization has labelled the coronavirus a global emergency. Multiple countries including Australia and the US banned entry by foreign nationals who have recently visited China.
Supply chains across the world’s second-largest economy have also been disrupted as more airlines cancelled flights to the country, prompting its biggest refiner Sinopec to cut output.
Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. said oil could fall to around $50 a barrel without OPEC intervention, while Morgan Stanley said if the virus continues to escalate for three to four months, it would cut around 75,000 barrels a day from China’s 2020 oil demand growth. If the outbreak peaks in one to two months, first quarter demand growth would fall to 150,000 barrels a day from 310,000, it said.