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Oil prices remain under pressure with coronavirus woes

Oil prices were trading Friday without much change as the coronavirus epidemic that emerged in China continues to keep global oil demand low.

International benchmark Brent crude was trading at $56.39 per barrel at 0605 GMT for a 0.16% loss after it closed Thursday at $56.48 a barrel.

American benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) was at $51.48 a barrel for a 0.14% gain after ending the previous session at $51.41 per barrel.

The death toll in China from the coronavirus outbreak has risen to 1,381, while 63,851 confirmed cases have been reported, and 121 people have died in the last 24 hours, according to the country’s National Health Commission on Friday.

“Containment measures are weighing heavily on China’s economy and are hurting activity in other economies in the region … world GDP will be perhaps $350 billion lower this quarter,” Capital Economics said Thursday in a report.

The independent research firm said the world’s GDP would contract by 1% annualized in the first quarter of 2020 — the first quarter-to-quarter contraction since the first quarter of 2009.

It also stated in a previous report earlier this week that China’s crude oil consumption would fall by approximately 10% in the first quarter of 2020, from the same period of last year, revising down its global oil consumption growth expectation for 2020 to 0.7 million barrels per day (bpd), from the previous estimate of 1.1 million bpd.

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