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Crude oil futures stable to lower on cautious sentiment

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Crude oil futures stable to lower on cautious sentiment

Crude oil futures were stable to lower in mid-morning trade in Asia Friday as investors remained cautious following latest coronavirus-related developments in China.

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At 10:20 am Singapore time (0220 GMT), March ICE Brent crude futures fell 2 cents/b (0.03%) from Thursday's settle at $62.04/b, while the NYMEX March light sweet crude contract was stable at $55.59/b.

The Chinese authorities reported early Friday that there have been 25 deaths and 830 cases of the coronavirus, according to media reports.

Related factbox: China coronavirus outbreak puts spotlight on global demand growth concerns

Crude oil prices have come under pressure this week amid concerns that China's coronavirus will dampen jet fuel demand, especially during a period of busy air travel expected for the Lunar New Year holidays.

"Any further spread could crimp energy demand from the transportation sector," ANZ analysts said in a note Friday.

Despite bearish sentiment, an unexpected drawdown on US crude inventories limited declines.

"Oil prices fell 2% on Thursday on concerns that the spread of the virus from China could lower fuel demand if it stunts economic growth, but losses were limited by a drawdown in US crude inventories," UOB analysts said in a note Friday.

US commercial crude stocks declined 400,000 barrels to 428.11 million barrels during the week ended January 17, US Energy Information Administration data showed Thursday.

Analysts expected a 500,000 barrel build in an S&P Global Platts survey Tuesday.

"Market attention will continue to be on the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus, after Singapore reported its first case late Thursday evening," UOPB analysts said.

As of 0220 GMT, the US Dollar Index was down 0.01% at 97.490.