TOKYO (Reuters) – Oil prices fell on Thursday as alarm spread over the economic impact of the Wuhan virus in China, while a bigger-than-expected increase in US crude stocks added to the negative tone.
Brent was down 95 cents, or 1.6%, at $58.86 a barrel by 0738 GMT, having risen 0.5% on Wednesday. US crude was down 84 cents, or 1.6%, at $52.49 a barrel, after dropping 0.3% in the previous session.
Prices had steadied in recent days, after a rout pushed them to three-month lows as investors tried to assess damage from the virus to economic growth and demand for crude and its products.
But now the rising death toll from the virus and its dispersion around the world has again turned screens red, with Asian stock markets down sharply.
“The Wuhan virus outbreak and its economic fall-out on Asia, the engine room of the world, remains the most crucial issue facing oil markets, with any rally likely to have short half-lives,” said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at OANDA.