NEW YORK: Oil prices plunged US$10 a barrel on Friday, their largest one-day drop since April 2020, as a new variant of the coronavirus spooked investors and added to concerns that a supply surplus could swell in the first quarter.
Oil fell with global equities markets on fears the variant, could dampen economic growth and fuel demand.
The World Health Organization has designated the new variant, which it named Omicron, as "of concern," according to the South African health minister.
The United States, Canada, Britain, Guatemala and European countries are among those to restrict travel from southern Africa, where the variant was detected.
Brent crude settled down $9.50, or 11.6%, to $72.72 a barrel, a weekly decline of more than 8%.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude settled down $10.24 on Friday, or 13.1%, at $68.15 a barrel, declining more than 10.4% on the week in high volume trading after Thursday's Thanksgiving holiday in the United States.
"The market is factoring in a worst case scenario situation in which this variant causes massive demand destruction," said Bob Yawger, director of energy futures at Mizuho.- Reuters