Oil prices plunged below zero on Monday as demand for energy collapses amid the coronavirus pandemic. Traders, meanwhile, are worried they could get stuck owning crude with nowhere to store it.
Stocks were also slipping on Wall Street in afternoon trading, with the S&P 500 down 0.9%, but the market’s most dramatic action was by far in oil, where benchmark U.S. crude for May delivery plummeted to negative $3.70 per barrel, as of 2:15 pm. Eastern time.
Much of the drop into negative territory was chalked up to technical reasons — the May delivery contract is close to expiring so it was seeing less trading volume, which can exacerbate swings. But prices for deliveries even further into the future, which were seeing larger trading volumes, also plunged. Demand for oil has collapsed so much due to the coronavirus pandemic that facilities for storing crude are nearly full.