In this file photo taken on April 23, 2020 Pump jacks operate near Loco Hills in Eddy County, New Mexico. — AFP

LONDON: World oil prices plunged more than 5% Monday, reaching the lowest levels since January, on forecasts of a hit to Chinese demand.

Brent North Sea crude slumped 5.5% to $82.84 per barrel and WTI shed 5.7% to $75.55 as China’s first coronavirus death in six months triggered fears of renewed strict lockdowns in the world’s second-biggest economy.

“Crude oil prices have slipped back sharply on the back of concerns over weakening Chinese demand, as well as reports that Saudi Arabia supports the idea of a production increase,” noted Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK.

He added that oil futures were “well below the levels they were before the Russian invasion of Ukraine”, helping to ease high inflation concerns.

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