The oil prices have since rebounded.
West Texas Intermediate crude oil, the USA benchmark, climbed 9.8 percent to $26.34 per barrel while Brent crude, the global standard was up 6.29 percent at $31.59. For the week, Brent was still up about 11% and WTI up about 18%.
Saudi Arabia's state oil giant Aramco has raised the June price for its Arab light crude oil to Asia by $1.40 a barrel from May, setting it at a discount of $5.90 to the Oman/Dubai average, according to a document seen by Reuters on Thursday.
"Traders are incredibly cautious this morning, weighing all the possible China responses", said Stephen Innes, chief global market strategist at AxiCorp.
Oil rose above $31 a barrel on Wednesday as hopes for a recovery in demand as some countries ease coronavirus lockdowns offset a report showing a higher-than-expected rise in USA inventories.
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He also announced 299 New Yorkers died from COVID-19 since the last count, bringing the statewide total to 18,603. "The MTA is going to literally disinfect every train", Cuomo says, adding that it's smart but "labor intensive".
"Nascent signs of rebounding gasoline demand in the USA and a rapid curtailment of oil production that has seen US producers cut over one million barrels per day of output in a matter of weeks has enabled oil prices to recover", Again Capital's John Kilduff tells CNBC.
"The latest report (on USA inventories) added to tentative evidence that - after a catastrophic few weeks - the pressure on the US oil market is beginning to lessen", Capital Economics said in a note.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration's weekly report on Wednesday showed 15 weeks of consecutive rises in crude stocks although the rate of growth in inventories has slowed since a record build of 19 million barrels in early April.
Beijing imported 42.82 million tons of crude oil in April, or the equivalent of 10.42 million barrels per day, according to Reuters calculations based on government data.
However, the country's imports for all goods fell, suggesting any recovery is some way off as economies around the world fall into recession.