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by Stockwatch Business Reporter
West Texas Intermediate crude for March delivery lost $1.05 to $53.14 on the New York Merc, while Brent for March lost $1.37 to $59.32, its first time below $60 in three months (all figures in this para U.S.). Western Canadian Select traded at a discount of $21.75 to WTI, unchanged. Natural gas for February added one cent to $1.90. The TSX energy index lost 3.58 points to close at 132.96.
Oil prices had another down day, as the rapid spread and rising death toll of China's coronavirus stoked fears of slowing oil demand. At least 81 people have been reported dead in China from the outbreak. Saudi Arabia's Energy Minister, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman Al-Saud, sought to contain rumours that OPEC and its oil-producing allies (together known as OPEC+) are already thinking about deepening their production cuts. In a statement, Prince Abdulazis said markets are being "primarily driven by psychological factors and extremely negative expectations adopted by some market participants despite [the outbreak's] very limited impact on global oil demand." He added that the market was similarly pessimistic during the SARS outbreak of 2003 even though that did not cause a significant demand reduction. Ultimately, he said, OPEC+ has "the capability and flexibility needed to response to any developments, by taking the necessary actions to support oil market stability, if the situation so requires."
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