Crude oil prices were down early Thursday as the U.S. Federal Reserve Chair warned against the negative impact of the coronavirus epidemic on growth in Asian economies.
The U.S.' central bank kept its benchmark interest rate unchanged on Wednesday, but the Fed Chair Jerome Powell regarded coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, China and which has spread to mainland China and many countries as a "very serious" threat.
In a news conference after the Fed's rate announcement, he told reporters that the Fed is "very carefully" monitoring the situation.
"There is likely to be some disruption to activity in China and globally,” he said.
"It’s very uncertain how far it will spread and what the economic effects will be in China, for its trading partners, and around the world," he added.
The death toll in China from the coronavirus outbreak has climbed to 170, and 38 people have died in the last 24 hours, according to the National Health Commission on Thursday.
While there are 7,711 confirmed cases of pneumonia caused by the coronavirus, a total of 12,167 people are suspected of being infected with the virus.
The spread of the virus already has a negative impact on oil prices with worries that global oil demand will be lower than expectations in the first quarter of 2020.
International benchmark Brent crude was trading at $58.18 per barrel at 0715 GMT on Thursday for a 0.85% daily loss, after closing Wednesday at $58.68 a barrel with a daily loss of 1.39%.
American benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) was at $52.67 a barrel at the same time for a 0.86% decline, after ending the previous session at $53.13 per barrel with a daily loss of 0.65%.
By Ovunc Kutlu