Oil fell on Friday as the COVID-19 outbreak accelerated beyond China, intensifying concerns about the infection’s economic fallout.
Futures fell 0.9 percent in New York.
China revised how it calculates infection totals for the third time this month, raising questions about data reliability and confirming the virus’ growing reach.
Meanwhile, a key IHS Markit gauge of factories and service providers in the US dropped for the first time in seven years, sparking sell-offs in government bonds and equities.
“The market is seeing a broad risk-off move,” Cornerstone Macro global energy economist Jan Stuart said. “Just when the outbreak was beginning to turn, the new cases are making investors wonder if we have more to worry about. There was no move in the structure however, the backwardation in Brent held. Oil followed the move down as investors took money off the table.”
Oil has fallen more than 12 percent this year as the outbreak in China crippled industrial activity and transportation at a time when energy supplies already were abundant.
The WHO said if countries do not respond strongly now, the spread outside China might become a wider threat.
Still, crude posted a second consecutive weekly gain, supported by supply disruptions in Venezuela and Libya.
West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for April delivery fell US$0.50 to settle at US$53.38 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, ending the week 2.6 percent higher.
Brent for April settlement declined US$0.81 to settle at US$58.50 on the ICE Futures Europe exchange putting its premium over WTI at US$5.12. The global benchmark rose 2.1 percent for the week.
OPEC and its allies are to meet next month as originally scheduled after efforts by Saudi Arabia to hold an emergency meeting failed to materialize amid resistance from Russia.
Saudi Arabian Minister of Energy and Industry Khalid al-Falih dismissed a Dow Jones report on Friday that Riyadh was considering a break from its four-year oil production alliance with Russia.
Russia has remained noncommittal to an OPEC proposal for additional production cuts.
“Saudi Arabia needs the production cuts more than Russia,” Rabobank NV commodities strategist Ryan Fitzmaurice said. “Russia will eventually come to the table in March and participate but Saudi Arabia will likely shoulder most of burden to get them to come on board.”
STEPPING UP: The firm has also asked employees to work in split shifts from this week and to halt all but essential overseas business travel from next month Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) has implemented a remote work policy for employees not on production lines in an attempt to curb the spread of COVID-19, the world’s largest contract chipmaker said yesterday. This is the first time in the Hsinchu-based company’s history that it has launched a large-scale remote work policy, joining global technology companies, such as Apple Inc and Google, that encourage employees to work from home. The chipmaker has also asked employees to work in split shifts from this week, it said. As the number of virus infections continues to climb worldwide, TSMC has urged employees to halt unnecessary
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Facing the rapidly evolving global COVID-19 pandemic, Citibank Taiwan Ltd (台灣花旗) has proactively taken precautionary measures. “The health and safety of our colleagues and their families, as well as our clients and the communities we serve, are of the utmost importance. We continue to take proactive measures to preserve their well-being while we maintain our ability to serve our clients,” Citibank Taiwan chairman Paulus Mok (莫兆鴻) said in a statement yesterday. “We have local and regional contingency plans in place, and we have well-established business continuity plans for the firm. We are monitoring the situation closely, adjusting our operations accordingly,
GoShare, an electric scooter sharing service provider with Gogoro Inc (睿能創意), plans to expand to Tainan next quarter in a strategic alliance with Aeon Motor Co (宏佳騰). The company currently offers its services in Taipei and Taoyuan. “Tainan is very popular among tourists. The city receives an average of 22.94 million tourists every year,” GoShare head Henry Chiang (姜家煒) told a news conference yesterday in Taipei, citing Tourism Bureau statistics. “Besides, the city has a long history of riding scooters,” he said. Each household owns an average of 2.5 scooters, he added. “Expanding presence” is one of four strategies GoShare is adopting for this