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by Stockwatch Business Reporter
West Texas Intermediate crude for March delivery added $1.23 to $51.17 on the New York Merc, while Brent for April added $1.78 to $55.79 (all figures in this para U.S.). Western Canadian Select traded at a discount of $17.15 to WTI, up from a discount of $18.31. Natural gas for March added five cents to $1.84. The TSX energy index added 1.27 points to close at 131.42.
Oil benchmarks wobbled, but ultimately ended higher, as traders sifted through mixed headlines and acted on the ones they liked best. China reported its lowest daily number of new coronavirus cases since January, fuelling optimism that Chinese oil demand will start to improve. OPEC, however, slashed its oil demand outlook dramatically today, citing the coronavirus outbreak as a "major factor" in the decision. The cartel is now forecasting that global demand will rise by just 990,000 barrels a day in 2020, down from the prior forecast of 1.22 million. "The impact of the coronavirus outbreak on China's economy has added to the uncertainties surrounding global economic growth in 2020, and by extension global oil demand growth in 2020," warned OPEC. The Chinese government was having none of that pessimism. "[China has] the ability and confidence not only to defeat the epidemic, but also to accomplish the set of goals and tasks for economic and social development," declared Chinese President Xi Jinping. The official death toll from the coronavirus outbreak is 1,115, with over 44,600 confirmed cases.
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