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Two pedestrians in Jiangtan Park on Jan. 27 during the lockdown in Wuhan, China. Photo: Getty Images

Some analysts are beginning to wonder if oil markets are overly spooked by the potential for the coronavirus to dent energy demand as travel and economic activity are crimped.

Why it matters: The human health toll is what matters most, with at least 107 people dead so far. But the coronavirus is also rattling markets, and is arriving when the oil market was already awash in supplies and demand growth was modest.

  • China, where the outbreak is centered, is the world's largest oil importer and flights in the region are a massive source of jet fuel consumption.

What they're saying: "Several questions remain unanswered about the potential fallout from the coronavirus, but if the experience from the 2003 SARS outbreak is any indication, demand worries are likely overdone," Barclays said in a note.

  • RBC Capital Markets said in a report: "We believe coronavirus is a Chinese jet fuel demand story for now and not yet a global demand story."
  • Their report, while noting the outbreak is still unfolding, says that right now the price decline is "overextended" compared to supply and demand fundamentals.

What's next: Who knows? "[C]alling the bottom of a market with any degree of conviction during periods of epidemics is exceedingly difficult," RBC notes, citing fear in the marketplace.

Where it stands: OPEC "wants to extend current oil output cuts until at least June, with the possibility of deeper reductions on the table if oil demand in China is significantly impacted by the spread of a new coronavirus," Reuters reports this morning.

  • Brent crude is hanging around in the $58 per barrel range this morning, with this week reporting the lowest in over three months despite conflict in Libya that's cutting output.

By the numbers: Barclays' note sees global crude oil demand loss related to the virus at around 600,000 to 800,000 barrels per day in Q1 and around 200,000 for the full year, which they note is less than 0.2% of global demand.

  • They also see OPEC and allied producers stepping in with more supply cuts if demand loss is more severe.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Updated 6 hours ago - World

UK government: Kremlin has plan "to install pro-Russian leadership" in Ukraine

British Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss. Photo: Gints Ivuskans / AFP via Getty Images

The United Kingdom's Foreign Secretary on Saturday night said the government has "information that indicates the Russian Government is looking to install a pro-Russian leader in Kyiv as it considers whether to invade and occupy Ukraine."

Driving the news: U.S. National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne called the intelligence "deeply concerning" in a statement to Axios. The Biden administration has said Russia is actively manufacturing a pretext for invasion and warned that Putin could use joint military exercises in Belarus as cover to invade from the north.

Updated 7 hours ago - Science

This powerful new accelerator looks for keys to the center of atoms

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Nuclear physicists trying to piece together how atoms are built are about to get a powerful new tool.

Why it matters: When the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams begins experiments later this spring, physicists from around the world will use the particle accelerator to better understand the inner workings of atoms that make up all the matter that can be seen in the universe.

Updated 7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: FDA OKs antiviral drug remdesivir for non-hospitalized COVID patients — Walensky: CDC language "pivoting" on "fully vaccinated" — Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Teens and adults missed 37 million vaccinations during COVID — Team USA 100% vaccinated against COVID ahead of Beijing Olympics — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America — Annual COVID vaccine preferable to boosters, says Pfizer CEO.
  3. Politics: Arizona governor sues Biden administration over COVID funds tied to mandates — Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults — Beijing officials urge COVID-19 "emergency mode" before Winter Olympics.
  5. Variant tracker