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business
Thursday Mar 12 2020
By
AFP

Oil prices fall more than 3% after Trump virus address

By
AFP
Photo: AFP

SINGAPORE: Oil prices plunged more than three percent 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 3.7 percent to under $32 a barrel while Brent crude was off 3.3 percent at $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.

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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.

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