Oil prices fell to their lowest in seven weeks on Thursday on concerns that the spread of a newly identified respiratory virus from China may lower fuel demand at the same time a report showed oil inventories in the United States rose last week.
Brent crude futures (LCOc1) were down $1.05, or 1.7%, to $62.16 a barrel by 0125 GMT, and earlier dropped to the lowest since Dec. 4, after falling 2.1% the previous session.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate futures (CLc1) fell 95 cents, or 1.7%, to $55.78 a barrel after earlier falling to the lowest since Dec. 3. The contract declined 2.7% on Wednesday.
More than 540 cases of the new virus have been confirmed and authorities in Wuhan have shut transportation networks and are urging residents not to leave to help prevent the contagion spreading.