IEA: Global oil demand will fall in Q1 for first time in years

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The first quarter of 2020 will mark the first time in more than a decade that global demand for oil actually declines, the International Energy Agency projected Thursday.

The IEA said in its monthly market report that demand will fall by 435,000 barrels per day over the first quarter. Significant factors in the decline, it said, are the impacts of the coronavirus disease and the ongoing U.S.-China trade conflict.

The updated outlook also led the IEA to cut its growth forecast by 365,000 barrels per day to the lowest level since 2011. Last month as the virus took hold in China, the cost of Brent crude fell to below $55 per barrel.

"Global oil demand has been hit hard by the novel coronavirus and the widespread shutdown of China's economy," the agency said, noting that reduced oil consumption by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development-member countries last year influenced the revised growth forecast.

"There is already a major slowdown in oil consumption and the wider economy in China," it said.

"There has been an enormous increase in travel to and from the country, thus heightening the risk of the virus spreading."

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries is now considering cutting output because of the influence of the global COVID-19 outbreak, and suggested last week cutting output by hundreds of thousands of barrels a day. OPEC already has slashed its daily production by 1.7 million barrels.

International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva told CNBC the outbreak has been more impactful on the global economy than the 2002-2003 SARS epidemic.
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