Oil prices extend falls as economic slowdown worries weigh on markets

 Oil prices extend falls as economic slowdown worries weigh on markets

By Henning Gloystein

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Oil prices extended falls from the previous session on Wednesday, as concerns of an economic slowdown weighed on markets.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $52.74 per barrel at 0024 GMT, down 27 cents, or 0.5 percent from their last settlement.

International Brent crude oil futures had yet to trade.

The decline followed a 2 percent fall in crude oil futures and a slump in global financial markets on Tuesday as concerns over global growth spooked investors into looking for safe-haven assets like government bonds or gold.

A global economic downturn is widely expected to also dent fuel demand growth, weighing on energy prices.

Steen Jakobsen, chief economist at Denmark's Saxo Bank, said in a first quarter 2019 outlook that "the global economy is suffering" but added that China's government will do all it can for stability.

A key support would be for the United States and China to find a solution to their bitter trade dispute, Jakobsen said, but to prevent a sharp economic slowdown, a solution needs to show itself before Feb. 5, the Chinese New Year.

Should a deal be reached by then, "we will see powerful support for the Chinese economy", he said, as well as the launch of strong stimulus programmes to keep the economy growing.

Despite this, Jakobsen warned that stimulus programmes could not keep the economy going forever, and there was a large risk of another downturn in 2020.

(Reporting by Henning Gloystein; editing by Richard Pullin)

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Updated Date: Jan 23, 2019 07:05:17 IST