- Prices rebound after WHO ‘opposes’ curbs on travel or trade.
- Oil benchmarks still on track for fourth weekly loss.
- Saudi Arabia opens talks on possible Feb OPEC+ meeting.
Oil prices rose on Friday but wereÂ still set for a fourth consecutive weekly loss, as markets attempted to assessÂ theÂ economic damage of the coronavirus that has spread from China to around 20Â countries, killing more than 200 people.
Brent crudeÂ was 31 cents higher at $58.60 a barrel by 0943 GMT butÂ was still down 3.4% on the week.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI)Â rose by 34 cents to $52.48 aÂ barrel. It is 3.2% lower on the week.
Both benchmarks rose by more than $1 earlier in the session.Â
The WHO said late Thursday that the coronavirus outbreak was a globalÂ emergency, but calmed the markets by opposing travel restrictions. It saidÂ Chinese actions so far will “reverse the tide” of its spread.
“China’s better-than-expected expansion in its January non-manufacturingÂ PMI, along with the concerted efforts by the authorities to contain the viralÂ outbreak, could help push back against some of the fears surrounding the epidemic’s impact on the world’s second-largest economy,” said Han Tan, marketÂ analyst at FXTM.
Oil prices were also buoyed by reports that Saudi Arabia has opened aÂ discussion about moving an upcoming policy meeting to early February from MarchÂ to address the impact of coronavirus on crude demand.
Energy consultancy Wood Mackenzie lowered its estimate for world oil demandÂ by 500,000 barrels per day (bpd) for the first quarter of 2020, according to itsÂ consultant Yujiao Lei, saying China’s oil demand for the same period could alsoÂ be reduced by more than 250,000 bpd.
“Although the Chinese government has been taking action more swiftly in aÂ more determined manner than in 2003 (during the SARS outbreak), Chinese domesticÂ and international transport activity is incomparably higher today and thus theÂ impact may be larger,” Lei added.
China’s new year holiday was due to end on Friday, when many companiesÂ planned to get back to work after a week-long vacation, but authorities haveÂ ordered businesses in many areas to stay shut longer in a bid to contain theÂ disease.
Widespread travel restrictions, meanwhile, mean millions of migrant workersÂ may be unable to return to what has often been called the world’s factory floor.Â
A growing number of airlines are suspending flights to China to halt theÂ spread of the virus.
Brexit day, which comes three and a half years after the United KingdomÂ first voted to leave the European Union, is not expected to move markets,Â analysts said.