World oil prices tumbled by more than four percent on Thursday, as traders fretted about the impact of spreading coronavirus on crude demand, particularly from key consumer China.
Brent oil for April delivery tanked almost 4.2 percent to $51.20 per barrel, while New York’s WTI crude for the same month dived nearly 5.0 percent to $46.31.
“Concerns that the virus will prompt a global slowdown, weaker consumer confidence and reduced travel has raised concerns about lower demand, weighing on prices,” CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson told reporters.
Oil slumps to 13-month low on fears of economic toll from coronavirus https://t.co/OR9PK1yr7U
— MarketWatch (@MarketWatch) February 26, 2020
Investors are growing increasingly fearful about the economic impact of the new coronavirus or COVID-19 outbreak.
The virus continues to spread meanwhile, with Brazil reporting Latin America’s first case, and Denmark, Estonia, Greece, Georgia, Norway and Pakistan following suit.
Around 2,800 people have died in China and more than 80,000 have been infected. There have been more than 50 deaths and 3,600 cases in dozens of other countries, raising fears of a pandemic.
Latest Developments from around the world, Pakistan.
The list of countries hit by the coronavirus grows to 50. Mecca suspends entry for pilgrims. Several countries close their schools, stock exchanges plunge.
Some 82,560 people have been infected worldwide and 2,813 have died, according to the latest AFP toll from official sources Thursday at 1700 GMT.
The number of deaths in mainland China – excluding the semi-autonomous territories of Hong Kong and Macao – stands at 2,747, out of 78,497 cases. Over the previous 24 hours, 433 new infections have been recorded there.
In AFP’s latest count, 66 people have died outside mainland China since the start of the epidemic, out of 4,063 people infected, with 863 new cases
But the fatality rate in China slowed, with 29 new deaths on Thursday, the smallest number for almost a month.
The coronavirus has appeared in ten new countries – Brazil, Denmark, Estonia, Georgia, Greece, Norway, Northern Macedonia, Pakistan, Romania and The Netherlands – bringing the number of countries and territories hit to around 50.
South Korea has announced 1,766 infections – by far the largest outside China — and 13 deaths.
The number of infections in Italy, the hardest-hit country in Europe, hits 528, with 14 deaths.
Iran announces a total of 26 deaths and more than 245 infections.
France’s confirmed cases more than doubled in a day from 18 to 38.
Coronavirus: Facial masks become rare
— Baaghi TV باغی ٹی وی (@BaaghiTV) February 28, 2020
Pilgrimages, war games suspended
Saudi Arabia temporarily suspends visas for visits to Islam’s holiest sites for the “umrah” pilgrimage, an unprecedented move triggered by coronavirus fears.
Iranian authorities for their part announce domestic travel restrictions for people with confirmed or suspected cases of the novel coronavirus.
Israel refuses entry to its territory for dozens of foreign travelers arriving from Italy.
The US and South Korean militaries announce they are postponing scheduled joint exercises.
Greece cancels its carnival festivities planned for the weekend.
Japan closes schools for several weeks from Monday, while North Korea, which has recorded no infections, puts off the return to school.
The Iraqi authorities close schools and universities, cinemas and cafes until March 7. Pakistani province of Sindh has also closed educational institutes until March 2.
Markets, sport disrupted
In the economic sector, stock markets around the world and oil prices continue to plunge, amid the surge in coronavirus infections.
French carrier Air France says it will take cost-cutting measures and freeze hiring.
The alpine skiing World Cup Finals scheduled for next month in Italy will take place without any fans on the slopes.
News Desk with inputs from AFP and Anddolu