U.S. West Texas Intermediate and international-benchmark Brent crude oil futures hit multi-year lows on Friday and were set for their steepest weekly decline in more than four years as the spread of the coronavirus raised fears of a global recession and consequently lower demand for crude oil and other refined fuels.
Benchmark Brent crude, which fell yet another 4% on Friday, has lost over 12% this week, putting it on track for its steepest decline since January 2016.
Coronavirus Continues to Cause Demand Worries
Oil prices are down for a sixth consecutive day on Friday as a growing number of new coronavirus cases outside of China fueled fears of a pandemic which could slow the global economy and lower crude demand.
On Wednesday, for the first time ever, the number of new coronavirus infections outside China, the source of the outbreak, exceeded the number of new Chinese cases.
Late Wednesday, President Trump tried to calm investor nerves by telling Americans that the risk from coronavirus remained “very low,” and placed Vice President Mike Pence in charge of the U.S. response to the looming global health crisis.
He also said the spread of the virus in the United States was not “inevitable” and then went on to say: “It probably will, it possibly will. It could be at a very small level, or it could be at a larger level. Whatever happens, we’re totally prepared.”
Global Fuel Demand Limited