Record Oil Price Drops Send Stock Markets Diving, Too

Apr 21, 2020
Originally published on April 21, 2020 3:57 pm

Updated at 4:29 p.m. ET

A severe oversupply continued to hammer oil prices a day after they turned negative for the first time ever. That sign of crashing demand in the global economy sent stocks indexes down again.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 631 points Tuesday, a drop of nearly 2.7%, after tumbling 592 points, or 2.4%, a day earlier. The Dow is down 22% from its record high in February.

Stocks have been diving as lockdowns aimed at containing the spread of the coronavirus keep businesses shut. More than 22 million Americans have lost their jobs in the past month, and the numbers are expected to keep rising.

On Monday, U.S. oil prices took an unprecedented dive — falling below zero. West Texas Intermediate, a key U.S. oil benchmark, settled at negative $37.63 for May delivery. That meant that instead of paying to buy oil, some traders were ready to pay to get someone to accept delivery. Simply put, there's too much oil and not enough places to store it.

The devastation in the oil markets continued Tuesday, with the supply glut sending WTI for June delivery down 43% to settle at $11.57 a barrel. Brent crude futures, a global oil benchmark, tumbled 25% to $19 per barrel. Brent is down more than 70% this year.

Stocks in the S&P 500 energy index have sunk 45% since January.

Gasoline prices have continued to fall too, though fewer Americans are driving much to enjoy the savings. The national average price for regular was $1.81 a gallon on Tuesday, down from $2.15 a month ago, according to AAA.

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