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Oil Plunges Below $5 With Traders Fleeing Expiring Contract

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Oil plunged below $5 a barrel as the coronavirus pandemic ravages global economies, threatening to erase an entire decade of demand growth, slashing thousands of jobs and wiping out hundreds of billions of dollars from company valuations.

Industrial and economic activity is grinding to a halt as governments around the globe extend shutdowns due to the swift spread of the coronavirus. Oil has faced its own knock-on effects with a market massively oversupplied and nowhere to put physical barrels of crude. An unprecedented output deal by OPEC and allied members a week ago to curb supply is proving too little too late in the face a one-third collapse in global demand.

On Monday, a technical oddity exacerbated the price plunge as traders fled the May futures contract ahead of its expiration tomorrow, driving it down as much as 78% to the lowest level since futures began trading in New York in 1983. The following month’s contract fell 11% to $22.22 a barrel. CME group said it’s possible that May WTI contract could trade negative.

“There is little to prevent the physical market from the further acute downside path over the near term,” said Michael Tran, managing director of global energy strategy at RBC Capital Markets. “Refiners are rejecting barrels at a historic pace and with U.S. storage levels sprinting to the brim, market forces will inflict further pain until either we hit rock bottom, or COVID clears, whichever comes first, but it looks like the former.”

 

PULLED FROM bloomberg.com

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