Oil prices were hit by a double whammy on Friday, with news that President Donald Trump said he has contracted coronavirus adding to the industry’s concerns about rising worldwide cases of the disease denting demand for the commodity.
West Texas Intermediate crude for November delivery
tumbled $1.30, or 3.4%, to $37.42 a barrel, after dropping 3.7% to settle at $38.27 a barrel on Thursday. The week has seen a 7% drop as of Thursday, according to FactSet Research.
December Brent crude futures
slid 3.2%, or $1.38, to $39.55 a barrel. The contract fell 3.2% on Thursday and is looking at a loss of 6.7% for the week so far, according to FactSet.
“Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19. We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately,” Trump said on Twitter. Dr. Sean Conley, the physician to the president, said the president will continue to carry out his duties and that both he and Melania were “well at this time.”
“The news throws uncertainty into the immediate future of both the incumbent’s election campaign and potentially the U.S. leadership,” said analysts at the JBC Energy Research Centre, in a note to clients.
Oil prices logged their lowest settlement since mid-September on Thursday, driven by fears that COVID-19 cases will drive demand lower, even as supply tightens up. The Energy Information Administration on Wednesday reported a surprise fall of 2 million barrels in U.S. crude supply, the third straight weekly decline.
Investors in oil markets have been keeping close watch on the disease’s expansion, which has worsened in parts of Europe, because it has a direct effect on the commodity if economies begin to slow down.
“The main reason for the latest surge in demand is that people are using their own vehicles rather than public transport for fear of catching coronavirus, which puts a number of question marks over the recovery,” said Eugen Weinberg, head of commodity research at Commerzbank, in a note to clients.