Oil prices fall around 6% after Trump virus address

File: WTO chief Roberto Azevedo warned the downturn "may well be the deepest economic recession or downturn of our lifetimes".

File: WTO chief Roberto Azevedo warned the downturn "may well be the deepest economic recession or downturn of our lifetimes".

AFP/Jeenah Moon

SINGAPORE - Oil prices plunged about six percent on Thursday after US President Donald Trump announced a 30-day ban on all travel from Europe to the United States over the coronavirus pandemic.

West Texas Intermediate slipped 6.2 percent to $31 a barrel while Brent crude was off 5.8 percent at under $34 a barrel.

Both contracts extended heavy losses from a day earlier, which came after Saudi Arabia and Gulf partner the UAE stepped up a price war by vowing to pump millions more barrels of crude.

READ: Oil rises but Asia struggles to recover from Black Monday rout

Crude markets have been in turmoil since the start of the week, when they suffered their biggest one-day drop in a generation after Riyadh slashed prices following a row with Moscow about output cuts.

Prices briefly bounced after Trump began addressing the nation on the virus outbreak, which is now hitting the world's top economy hard -- but then quickly slipped into the red. 

The travel restrictions, which do not apply to Britain, will go into effect Friday at midnight, Trump said.

READ: World shares trampled in coronavirus panic, oil prices plunge

The move came after the World Health Organization declared the outbreak a pandemic.

Following Trump's announcement, AxiCorp market strategist Stephen Innes said that "if this doesn't get Saudi and Russia back to the table, I don't think anything will".

This week's collapse of oil prices came after OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia had led a push to reduce output further to shore up prices amid slumping demand.

But the move was blocked by Moscow, the world's second-biggest oil producer, prompting Riyadh to slash prices.

Source
AFP