Oil Futures Settle Lower On Concerns Over Energy Demand Outlook

Crude oil prices drifted lower on Friday amid concerns about the outlook for energy demand due to the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on the global economy.

Traders also weighed reports suggesting a rift in the crude-production alliance between Saudi Arabia and Russia.

West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for April ended down $0.50, or about 0.9%, at $53.38 a barrel.

Despite closing the session on a weak note, WTI crude oil futures recorded a gain of about 2% in the week.

Brent Crude futures declined by about 1.4% to $58.46 a barrel.

On Thursday, WTI crude oil futures for April ended up $0.39, or 0.7%, at $53.88 a barrel, supported by data showing a smaller-than-expected increase in U.S. crude inventories last week.

Reports about resumption of ceasefire talks between forces fighting over Libya’s capital helped ease concerns about supply disruptions.

According to a report from Baker Hughes, crude oil rigs in the United States increased to 679 in the week ending February 21 from 678 in the previous week.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said today that there were 76,767 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with the death toll at 2,247. Although the number of new cases in China slowed a bit, a rise in the number of new cases in South Korea has raised concerns.

South Korean health authorities reported 52 new cases of the fast-spreading disease, raising the national tally to 156. Meanwhile, the number of confirmed cases in Japan increased by 23 to 728.

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