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Oil Prices Slump as Global Death Toll From Coronavirus Surges Past 33,000

Oil Prices Slump as Global Death Toll From Coronavirus Surges Past 33,000

Singapore: Oil prices slumped in Asian trade on Monday, tracking falls on stock markets after a sharp escalation in the coronavirus crisis over the weekend.


US benchmark West Texas Intermediate fell 3.9 percent to trade at $20 a barrel, while international benchmark Brent crude was off 4.9 percent at $23 a barrel.


The falls came after the death toll from the pandemic surged past 33,000 at the weekend as cases in hard-hit Europe and the United States rocketed.


Senior US scientist Anthony Fauci estimated the virus could possibly result in 100,000 to 200,000 deaths in the United States, while President Donald Trump extended "social distancing" guidelines until April 30.


The virus has infected more than 140,000 in the world's top economy and left more than 2,400 dead.


Oil markets have been plunging for weeks as lockdowns and travel restrictions imposed by governments worldwide to fight the virus sapped demand.


Top producers Saudi Arabia and Russia are also locked in a price war, contributing to massive oversupply that is pushing down prices.


Along with global stocks, prices had clawed back some ground last week as policymakers worldwide unleashed massive stimulus measures to prop up the virus-hit global economy.


But Stephen Innes, chief global market strategist at AxiCorp, said prices had now "softened".


This suggested "the direction of travel skews lower as markets anticipate a (second quarter) that will inevitably see a large build in inventories, as demand echoes the shutting down of major global economies", he added.