which analysts consider to be closer to the “true” price of oil. Crude to be delivered next month, meanwhile, is running up against a stark problem: traders are running out of places to keep it, with storage tanks close to full amid a collapse in demand as factories, automobiles and airplanes sit idled around the world.
Tanks at a key energy hub in Oklahoma could hit their limits within three weeks, according to Chris Midgley, head of analytics at S&P Global Platts. Because of that, traders are willing to pay others to take that oil for delivery in May off their hands, so long as they also take the burden of figuring out where to keep it.
“Almost by definition, crude oil has never fallen more than 100%, which is what happened today,” said Dave Ernsberger, global head of pricing and market insight at S&P Global Platts.
Brent crude, the international standard, fell nearly 9% to $25.57 per barrel.
The plunge in oil sent energy stocks in the S&P 500 to a 3.7% loss, the latest in a dismal 2020 that has caused their prices to nearly halve.
Halliburton lurched between gains and sharp losses, even though it reported stronger results for the first three months of 2020 than analysts expected. The oilfield engineering company said that the pandemic has created so much turmoil in the industry that it “cannot reasonably estimate” how long the hit will last.
The S&P 500 fell 51.40 points to 2,823.16. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 592.05 points, or 2.4%, to 23,650.44, and the Nasdaq dropped 89.41, or 1%, to 8,560.73.
The losses ate into some of the big gains indexes have made since late March, driven lately by investors anticipating the potential reopening of businesses as infections level off in hard-hit areas. Pessimists have called the rally overdone, pointing to the severe economic pain sweeping the world and continued uncertainty about how long it will last.
More gains from companies that are winners in the new stay-at-home economy helped limit the market’s losses. Netflix jumped 3.4% to set another record. Amazon added 0.8%.
European markets were modestly higher. The German DAX was up 0.5%, the French CAC 40 was up 0.7% and the FTSE 100 in London gained 0.7%.
In a sign of continued caution in the market, Treasury yields remained extremely low. The yield on the 10-year Treasury slipped to 0.62% from 0.65% late Friday.
Stocks have been on a general upward swing recently, and the S&P 500 just closed out its first back-to-back weekly gain since the market began selling off in February. Promises of massive aid for the economy and markets by the Federal Reserve and U.S. government ignited the rally, which sent the S&P 500 up as much as 28.5% from a low on March 23.
Countries around the world have tentatively eased up on business-shutdown restrictions put in place to slow the spread of the virus.
But health experts warn the pandemic is far from over and new flareups could ignite if governments rush to allow “normal” life to return prematurely. The S&P 500 remains nearly 17% below its record high as millions more U.S. workers file for unemployment every week amid the shutdowns.