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Oil falls for fifth day on demand concerns as coronavirus spreads

February 28/2020

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Oil prices fell for a fifth day on Thursday to their lowest since January 2019 as a growing number of new coronavirus cases outside of China fuelled fears of a pandemic which could slow the global economy and lower crude demand, reported Reuters.

Brent crude was down 60 cents, or 1.1%, at USD52.83 a barrel at 0741 GMT. The contract earlier fell to as low as $52.53, the lowest since Jan. 2, 2019.

West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures fell by 55 cents, or 1.1%, to USD48.18 a barrel. It earlier fell to as low as $47.82, the lowest since Jan. 4, 2019.

In the five trading sessions through Thursday, Brent has dropped 10.6%, while WTI has declined 10.4%, their biggest five-day percentage losses since August 2019.

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.

The spread to large economies including South Korea, Japan and Italy has caused concerns that fuel demand growth will be limited. On Wednesday, consultants Facts Global Energy forecast oil demand growth will only 60,000 barrels per day in 2020, or practically zero, because of the widening outbreak.

U.S. President Donald Trump assured Americans on Wednesday evening that the risk from coronavirus remained very low. However, Asian share markets fell on Thursday morning, as investors fear the coronavirus spread will disrupt the global economy as quarantines and other measures taken to halt its advance slow trade and industry.

Speculations that coronavirus may spread in the United States prompted a series of fresh selling, said Kazuhiko Saito, chief analyst at Fujitomi Co.

If an outbreak continues to worsen in the United States, oil prices will likely decline further, especially with U.S. gasoline prices already plunging, Saito said.

The United States is the worlds largest oil producer and consumer.

Gasoline stockpiles dropped by 2.7 million barrels in the week to Feb. 21 to 256.4 million, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Wednesday, amid a decline in refinery throughput. Distillate inventories fell by 2.1 million barrels to 138.5 million.

U.S. crude oil stockpiles increased by 452,000 barrels to 443.3 million barrels, the Energy Information Administration said, which was less than the 2-million-barrel rise analysts had expected.

The crude market was also watching for possible deeper output cuts by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies including Russia, a group known as OPEC+.

The falls this week, primarily through $55.00 on Brent crude, are likely to awaken the OPEC+ grouping from their slumber finally, said Jeffrey Halley, senior analyst at OANDA.

OPEC+ plans to meet in Vienna over March 5-6.

As MRC informed before, state-owned PetroChina shut its Guangxi Petrochemical in southern Guangxi province on February 9 for scheduled 50-day maintenance. The maintenance should help the refinery to offset stock pressure after product demand slumped due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Ethylene and propylene are feedstocks for producing polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP).

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated PE consumption totalled 2,093,260 tonnes in 2019, up by 6% year on year. Shipments of all PE grades increased. PE shipments rose from both domestic producers and foreign suppliers. The estimated PP consumption in the Russian market was 1,260,400 tonnes in January-December 2019, up by 4% year on year. Supply of almost all grades of propylene polymers increased, except for statistical copolymers of propylene (PP random copolymers).


mrcplast.com
Author:Margaret Volkova
Tags:crude and gaz condensate, petrochemistry, PetroChina, China, Russia, USA.
Category:General News
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