(Updates with comment, background)
SHANGHAI, Feb 24 (Reuters) - China’s energy futures tumbled over 4% to trade at more than one-week lows in early deals on Monday, as a jump in coronavirus cases and deaths outside China raised fears about the outlook for global growth and oil demand.
Crude oil on the Shanghai Futures Exchange fell as much as 4.7% and was last down 4.4%. The fuel oil contract on the Shanghai exchange’s International Energy Exchange slid 4.9% early on before paring some losses to trade 4% down.
The losses came as global oil prices slumped nearly 3% towards a one-week low on Monday as investors worried the rapid spread of the coronavirus in several countries outside China could severely hurt demand.
“The Shanghai contracts fell tracking losses in global oil prices,” said Xi Jiarui, an analyst with Chinese commodities consultancy JLC.
“Confidence in China’s oil demand may have returned, but the number of new coronavirus cases in South Korea and Japan has once again raised market worries about oil demand.”
The coronavirus has already claimed over 2,400 lives in China, but the sudden spike in infections in South Korea, Italy and Iran has raised alarm the outbreak could grow into a pandemic and tip the global economy into recession.
Brent crude declined 2.8% to $56.86 a barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude fell 2.6% to $51.97 a barrel. (Reporting by Emily Chow; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman & Shri Navaratnam)