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Crude oil prices declined sharply on Wednesday, extending losses to a fourth successive session, amid rising concerns about the outlook for energy demand due to the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on the global economy.

Data showing an increase in U.S. crude inventories last week contributed as well to oil's sharp decline today.

West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures for April ended down $1.17, or about 2.3%, at $48.73 a barrel.

Brent Crude futures declined by about $1.70, or 3%, to $53.23 a barrel.

On Tuesday, WTI crude oil futures for April ended down $1.53, or 3%, at $49.90 a barrel, after tumbling nearly 2% a session earlier.

Data released by the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said oil inventories climbed by 452,000 barrels in the week ended February 21, although the rise was much less than an expected increase of 2 million barrels.

Gasoline inventories dropped by 2.7 million barrels last week, more than expected. Distillate stockpiles fell by 2.1 million barrels in the week.

On Tuesday, the American Petroleum Institute (API) on Tuesday reported an increase of 1.3 million barrels of crude oil in the U.S. crude oil inventories for the week ending Feb. 21. API reported an increase of 4.2 million barrels of crude oil inventories for the previous week ending Feb. 14

Meanwhile, the number of confirmed new coronavirus cases in South Korea topped 1,100 and outbreaks in Italy and Iran spread to more countries, raising concerns about the impact of the outbreak on global growth.

The flu-like virus has now spread to several countries in Europe and the Middle East, with Switzerland, Austria and Romania reporting their first infections on Tuesday.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that Americans should begin to prepare for community spread of the coronavirus in the U.S.

Mainland China had 406 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infections on Tuesday, the country's National Health Commission said, down from 508 cases a day earlier.

OPEC and allies are scheduled to meet in Vienna on March 5 and 6 to take a call on deepening production cuts. Saudi Arabia's energy minister said on Tuesday he was confident that OPEC and its partners would respond responsibly to the spread of the coronavirus.