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Crude Oil Futures Settle Sharply Lower

Crude oil prices drifted lower on Friday, extending recent losses, amid rising concerns about the outlook for energy demand and excess supply in the market.

Earlier in the day, the World Health Organization's determination that it is too early to declare the Chinese coronavirus outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, limited oil's decline.

But prices edged lower subsequently as worries about the impact of coronavirus resurfaced, raising concerns about the outlook for near-term energy demand.

West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for March ended down $1.40, or about 2.5%, at $54.19 a barrel.

WTI crude oil futures shed about 7.5% in the week, the biggest weekly loss since falling almost 9% in the last week of May 2019.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the second case of the virus in the U.S.

The CDC said the patient, a woman in her 60s, recently returned from a trip to Wuhan, China, and is currently doing well and in stable condition.

The public health agency said another sixty three patients in twenty-two states are being monitored for signs of infection.

Meanwhile, according to reports, China has restricted movement of close to 46 million people in and out of cities near the center of the coronavirus outbreak. The country has also canceled Lunar New Year events as the number of infected cases is on the rise.

It is feared that a slowing Chinese economy might significantly impact energy demand as the world's second largest economy is the largest crude oil importer.

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