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Crude Oil Futures Settle Sharply Lower On Demand Growth Concerns

Crude oil prices declined on Thursday amid concerns about demand growth due to the ongoing trade disputes between the U.S. and China.

Meanwhile, worries about global growth have increased following the European Union lowering its growth forecast for the Euro area.

Despite OPEC-led supply cuts and the U.S. sanctions against Venezuela's oil industry, crude oil prices tumbled today.

West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for March ended down $1.37, or 2.5%, at $52.64 a barrel, the lowest settlement in more than a week.

On Wednesday, crude oil futures ended up $0.35, or 0.7%, at $54.01 a barrel, rallying from a low of $52.88.

Data released by Energy Information Administration on Wednesday showed that crude inventories increased by 1.26 million barrels last week. The increase, however, was less than what economists had expected.

Meanwhile, average weekly U.S. crude oil production remained at the record 11.9 million barrels per day it reached in late 2018.

The European Union has slashed its GDP growth forecast for 2019 to 1.3% from 1.9% and lowered its estimate for growth in 2020 to 1.6% from 1.7%.

The downgrade reflected external factors, such as trade tensions and the slowdown in emerging markets, notably in China. Officials warned that the European outlook faces substantial risks due to the uncertainty about Brexit and the slowdown in China.

Despite positive comments from U.S. President Donald Trump and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin that the two countries may reach a deal sometime soon, there are still doubts about a deal being struck before the expiry of the 90 day truce agreed to by the presidents of the two countries in early December 2018.

According to a report from CNBC, Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping are "highly unlikely" to meet before a March 2nd deadline.

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