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Oil Prices Slump Amid Rising Crude Inventories

By Alex Ho

Investing.com - Oil prices slumped on Thursday in Asia after the American Petroleum Institute (API) reported that crude inventories rose last week.

U.S. Crude Oil WTI Futures lost 1.6% to $55.84 by 11:30 PM ET (03:30 GMT). International Brent Oil Futures dropped 1.3% to $62.37.

Oil inventories gained by 1.6 million for the week ended Jan. 17, according to the weekly report published by the API.

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) will report its weekly inventory numbers tomorrow at 11:00 AM ET, slightly later than usual due to the Martin Luther King Day Holiday on Monday.

The EIA is expected to report that crude stockpiles fell by 1 million barrels last week, extending the previous week’s drop of 2.5 million barrels.

Gasoline stockpiles gained by 3.1 million barrels, the EIA is likely to say, adding to the previous week’s rise of 6.7 million barrels.

On distillates inventories, traders expect the agency to report a 900,0000-barrel build, compared with the previous week’s 8.2-million-barrel jump.

Also weighing on oil prices was fear that the mysteries coronavirus that killed at least 17 people and infected hundreds of people in China will continue to spread to other countries.

So far, there have been more two “preliminary positive” reports of the pneumonia-causing virus in Hong Kong, one diagnosis in the U.S. and Macau, and patients under examination in Japan, Mexico and Russia.

On Thursday, China’ state broadcast CCTV reported that Beijing has issued a travel suspension in Wuhan, a city of 11 million.

All outbound flights and rail service are banned, according to the report, which said “citizens should not leave the city without special reasons.” The halt also includes travel by bus, subway and ferry.

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