Oil prices fall as market weighs coronavirus demand impact
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Oil prices fell on Tuesday, tracking losses in financial markets on lingering concerns over the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak in China and its effect on oil demand.
Brent crude was at $57.07 a barrel, down 60 cents, or 1%, by 0348 GMT, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude fell 38 cents, or 0.7%, to $51.67 a barrel.
The number of new coronavirus infections in mainland China fell below 2,000 on Tuesday for the first time since January, Chinese health officials said, although global experts warn it is too early to say the outbreak is being contained.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) said last week the virus was set to cause oil demand to fall by 435,000 barrels per day (bpd) year-on-year in the first quarter, in what would be the first quarterly drop since the financial crisis in 2009.
Still, with some Chinese independent refineries snapping up crude supplies after being absent from the market for weeks, traders held out hopes that China's demand could recover in coming months.
Investors are also anticipating that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies, including Russia, will approve a proposal to deepen production cuts to tighten global supplies and support prices.
The group, known as OPEC+, has an agreement to cut oil output by 1.7 million bpd until the end of March.