Oil prices plunge as China virus reduces demand

Crude prices extended declines on Monday, dropping below USD 60 for the first time in nearly three months, as the death toll from China’s coronavirus rose and more businesses were forced to shut down, fuelling expectations of slowing oil demand, Reuters reports.

"Brent crude LCOc1 was down USD 1.51 a barrel, or 2.5%, to USD 59.18 at 1254 GMT, its lowest since late October and the biggest intra-day fall since Jan. 8. U.S. crude CLc1 was down USD 1.37, or 2.53%, at USD 52.82. Both contracts had earlier fallen by more than 3," the message reads.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, allies in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), tried to play down the impact of the virus on Monday, with Riyadh, the de-facto OPEC leader, saying the group could respond to any changes in demand.

Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman Al-Saud said on Monday he felt confident the new virus would be contained.

The global spread of 2019-nCoV

OPEC+ “have the capability and flexibility needed to respond to any developments, by taking the necessary actions to support oil market stability, if the situation so requires,” Prince Abdulaziz said.

Previously reported that soybean futures fell for a fourth consecutive session on Friday as coronavirus concerns abounded.

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