Oil Prices Drop as Virus Infected Cases Set to Hit 8000

Oil prices jumped Thursday as the death toll from the coronavirus in China climbed to 170 as of late Wednesday, and more airlines suspended flights to the nation’s major cities while growing U.S. crude inventories added to the negative tone.

Brent was down 35 cents, i.e., 0.6%, at $59.46 per barrel, having soared 0.5% on Wednesday. U.S. crude was down 30 cents, i.e., 0.6%, at $53.03 per barrel, after plunging 0.3% in the earlier session.

Nonetheless, oil prices have steadied in recent days after a defeat that pushed them to three-month lows, and the market is trying to evaluate the damage to economic development and demand for crude and its products.

The second flight of Japanese evacuees from Wuhan, the epicenter of the epidemic, landed in Japan Thursday, with nine exhibiting symptoms of fever or coughing. Cases in China have passed 7,700.

The World Health Organisation’s Emergency Committee is set for another meeting later on Thursday to rethink whether the speedy spread of the coronavirus ought to now be called a world emergency.

Airlines worldwide are canceling or reducing direct flights to major cities in China as travel warnings are issued by governments and passenger numbers fall.

Crude shares soared by more than seven times market expectations, gaining 3.5 million barrels in the week to January 24, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said Wednesday.

Gasoline stocks surged to a report excessive, growing for a 12th straight week to 261.1 million barrels, the EIA mentioned.