Oil prices near 3-month lows amid Ebola fears, amid 2.5% drop in global stock markets

World stocks continued to fall Friday and oil prices dipped near 3-month lows after health officials said there was a new hard-to-contain variant of the deadly Ebola virus.

Markets in Europe had been higher but turned lower after a series of drops and a report in the National Public Radio (NPR) said the United States had sent health officials in Africa to make sure the virus didn’t spread.

The worst attack was the one that occurred on Tuesday, when at least 30 people in southeast Guinea were killed by the virus, which has a fatality rate of around 90%.

The South African stock market reversed early gains after reports that a winter storm could cause the South African rand to plummet as much as 7% against the dollar. This week, the currency had jumped nearly 8% and 8.4% against the dollar, helping South Africa stay among the gainers in the continent.

Glencore (GLEN) shares jumped 8% in London trading and 8.2% in Hong Kong after Reuters reported it had reached a deal to sell its coal-mining unit in Australia to Hong Kong-based Noble Group (NOBGF) , and was in talks to sell other assets as it streamlines its portfolio.

Iron ore and other basic materials giants were among top gainers on the FTSE 100 and Australian exchange on Friday, after Bloomberg reported that steelmakers in China planned to ask for lower prices for April delivery, which they had had been demanding in previous months.

Shares in the world’s largest iron ore producer, BHP Billiton (BHP) , were up more than 1% in London, while Brazil’s Vale SA (VALE) was just short of 3%.

Shares in rival Rio Tinto (RIO) were rising nearly 3% in London trading, while India’s JSW Steel Ltd. rose more than 2%.

Oil prices were consolidating near three-month lows, according to futures data, after an API report showed U.S. crude inventories fell more than 6.2 million barrels last week, compared with expectations for a drop of 1.3 million barrels.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) last week reached a deal to increase production by 1 million barrels, a move that appeared to have helped drive prices above $65. However, prices turned lower after an OPEC delegate from Algeria said the group would be discussing whether to raise production further at its meeting next week in Vienna.

Brent crude oil traded recently at around $64.60 a barrel, while West Texas Intermediate crude settled at $62.54 a barrel.

We begin a series of 10 investigative pieces about the U.S. oil industry, and the places that it touches, with this look at the banking and insurance industry on page 34 of the Fox Business special report: Out of Control.

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