Oil markets drop amid coronavirus chaos
Oil prices fell on Monday as governments increased lockdowns to limit the spread of the global coronavirus outbreak that has dropped the demand outlook for oil and threatened a worldwide economic compression.
Brent crude LCOc1 futures dropped $1.09, or 4% to $25.89 a barrel by 0209 GMT. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude CLc1 futures fell to 15 cents, or 0.7%, at $22.48 a barrel.
Oil prices have fallen for four straight weeks and have given up about 60% since the start of the year. Prices of everything from coal to copper have also been hit by the crisis, while markets in bonds and stocks enter rarely charted territory.
The coronavirus, which has infected more than 325,000 and killed over 14,000 worldwide, has disordered business, travel and daily life. Many oil companies have rushed to reduce spending and some producers have already begun putting employees on dismissal for a while.
The market has struggled with the twin shocks of the demand destruction caused by the coronavirus pandemic and the unforeseen oil price war that erupted between producers Russia and Saudi Arabia earlier this month.
The current production cut deal expires March 31.