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A month after negative oil prices, U.S. crude contract expiry looms

A month after sellers had to pay nearly $40 a barrel to get rid of U.S. oil futures, the next watershed moment looms with the expiry of the June contract on Tuesday – and so far there is little sign of a repeat of the historic plunge.

The extent of the damage that the coronavirus pandemic had inflicted on the oil industry came into focus on April 20, when the U.S. benchmark WTI (CLc1) contract plunged to minus $38 a barrel.

The virus destroyed so much fuel demand as billions of people stopped traveling that there was almost nowhere left to store the oil. So on the day before the May contract expired, investors stuck with barrels had to pay buyers to take it away.

A month later, governments around the world are slowly lifting travel restrictions and there are signs that demand is recovering from its nadir. Oil prices have staged something of a recovery, with U.S. crude rising on Monday to more than $30 a barrel and hitting its highest level since March 16.


Last updated on Mon., May 18, 2020.

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