Oil prices fell on Friday as demand destruction caused by the coronavirus outweighed stimulus efforts by policymakers around the world and the United States faced the prospect of becoming the next global epicenter of the pandemic.
U.S. crude was down $1.48, or 6.5%, at $21.66.
Brent crude was down $2.16, or 8%, at $24.75 a barrel.
Both contracts were on track for a fifth consecutive weekly drop. They are down nearly two thirds this year and the coronavirus-related slump in economic activity and fuel demand has forced massive retrenchment in investment by oil and other energy companies.
“Unlike the financial markets, the oil market is apparently finding it difficult to look beyond the current crisis,” said Commerzbank analyst Eugen Weinberg.
With 3 billion people in lockdown, global oil requirements could drop by 20%, International Energy Agency head Fatih Birol said as he called on major producers such as Saudi Arabia to help to stabilize oil markets.