Oil Prices Hold Steady After Last Week’s Rally

Oil prices held steady on Monday as coronavirus-related worries persisted and data showed the Japanese economy shrank at the fastest pace in six years in the December quarter, raising fresh worries about a slowdown in oil demand.

Benchmark Brent crude slid 0.1 percent to $57.28 a barrel, after climbing more than 5 percent last week to post its biggest weekly gain since September 2019. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures were up 0.1 percent at $52.37, after having risen 3.4 percent last week.

The death toll of the deadly virus in China has reached 1,765 people after another 100 deaths were reported in Hubei.

An additional 99 people have tested positive for the deadly virus on a cruise ship off the Japan coast, Japanese media said today, citing new figures from the health ministry.

China’s central bank pumped 100 billion yuan (about 14.33 billion U.S. dollars) into the financial system today through reverse repos in a bid to improve liquidity in the system.

The central bank also injected 200 billion yuan into the market via medium-term lending facility as China continues to battle the outbreak of the deadly Coronavirus.

China’s Finance Minister has unveiled plans to roll out targeted and phased tax and fee cuts to help relieve difficulties for businesses.

Elsewhere, Japan’s gross domestic product was down an annualized 6.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2019, the Cabinet Office said in a preliminary report. That was well shy of expectations for a decline 3.8 percent following the 0.5 percent increase in the three months prior.

On a seasonally adjusted quarterly basis, GDP sank 1.6 percent – again missing forecasts for a decline of 1.0 percent following the 0.1 percent gain in the third quarter.

Japan industrial production rose at a softer pace in December, than in the initial estimate, final data from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry revealed.

Industrial production rose a seasonally adjusted 1.2 percent month-on-month in December. In the initial estimate, production increased 1.3 percent.

Singapore cut its 2020 growth and exports forecasts due to the new coronavirus outbreak.

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