Oil prices plunge, WTI falls 24 percent to 18-year low

By: AFP      Published: 11:55 PM, 18 Mar, 2020
Oil prices plunge, WTI falls 24 percent to 18-year low

Oil prices collapsed on Wednesday as crude oversupply and the coronavirus pandemic’s economic upheaval drowned markets.

New York’s benchmark WTI plunged 24 percent to $20.37, its lowest price since 2002, while London’s Brent North Sea oil hit its lowest mark since 2003, slumping 14 percent to end trading at $24.67.

Crude has repeatedly hit record lows in recent days as the global economy flirts with recession caused by travel restrictions and business closures brought on by the virus, along with a price war between major producers Saudi Arabia and Russia.

Wednesday’s oil price fall came as Wall Street indices once again tripped “circuit breakers” halting trading for 15 minutes after losses on the S&P 500 hit seven percent, while the benchmark Dow Jones Industrial Average was meanwhile down 9.3 percent.

As the economic carnage builds, officials in Washington are preparing a $1.3 trillion stimulus package that includes deferrals on tax payments and loans for small businesses pummeled by the economic shutdown as well as immediate cash payments to all Americans.

US President Donald Trump said at a midday briefing that the Department of Housing and Urban Development will provide immediate relief to renters and homeowners by suspending all foreclosures and evictions until the end of April.

Still, anxiety remained sky-high as more of the economy shuts down.

In an interview with CNBC, investor Bill Ackman called for a “30-day shutdown” of the global economy.