A doctor at a quarantine zone in Wuhan, China. (Getty)

  • Oil demand is set for its first quarterly fall in over a decade, the IEA said Thursday.
  • Oil growth for the year will be the lowest it's been since 2011.
  • Coronavirus infections spiked by 15,000 Thursday, and oil markets have been on the frontlines of fears about the economic cost of the virus for weeks.
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The cost of coronavirus to global oil markets came into sharp focus as the International Energy Agency said global oil demand will see its first quarterly decline in over a decade.

Demand will be 435,000 barrels less per day versus the first quarter of 2019, the Thursday report said. The agency also cuts its growth projection for 2020 to 825,000 barrels per day, a reduction of nearly a third from its previous target, and the lowest growth forecast since 2011.

It's also a lower growth target than the one the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries forecast Wednesday, when it slashed its growth projection by 230,000 barrels per day to 990,000 barrels per day.

The impact of coronavirus on oil demand will be "significant," the IEA said, adding that China made up more than three quarters of oil demand growth last year. The independent, intergovernmental agency is one of the most trusted sources of data on oil markets.

China announced Thursday a massive 15,000-person spike in coronavirus cases, bringing the total number of people infected to above 60,000 and the death toll to 1,366. Businesses across industries have seen Chinese sales plummet amid the outbreak, and US names like Starbucks, Disney, and Nike have shut down some Chinese locations in response to the outbreak.

Oil markets have been on the frontlines of coronavirus fears, with West Texas Intermediate crude prices slipping below $50 a barrel at the start of this week, their lowest point in a year. Brent crude entered full contango, which is when each later-dated future contract is less expensive than the previous one, for a period on Tuesday. At top of mind is whether global oil suppliers will take action to stem price slides. Some OPEC members have pushed the organisation to take action, but key allies such as Russia have resisted, CNBC reported.

The IEA revised its projection for OPEC oil supply by 1.7 million barrels per day. Case-by-case supply shocks that have already occured this year across the globe did little to affect global supply levels this year, the IEA said.

Brent crude, the global oil benchmark, fell as much as 1.49% Thursday, while WTI crude fell 1.11%.

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