Oil prices climbed on Wednesday as China reported its lowest daily number of new coronavirus cases since late January, stoking investor hopes that fuel demand in the world’s second-largest oil consumer may begin to recover from the epidemic.
Brent crude (LCOc1) was up 98 cents, or 1.8%, at $54.99 per barrel at 0335 GMT. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) (CLc1) rose 81 cents, or 1.4%, to $50.65 a barrel.
According to data through Tuesday, the growth rate of new coronavirus cases in China has slowed to the lowest since Jan. 30. Still, international experts remained cautious over forecasting when the outbreak might reach a peak.
Travel restrictions to and from China and quarantines have cut fuel usage. The two biggest Chinese refiners have said they will reduce their processing by about 940,000 barrels per day (bpd) as a result of the consumption drop, or about 7% of their 2019 processing runs.