Paying to sell oil
The price on some futures contracts on WTI traded in negative territory for the first time in history overnight as the global oil glut has become so large that there is no longer space left to store the oil. The market panicked and the price fell to an unprecedented historic low of $ -37.63 overnight. No one was willing to buy oil contracts that expire today, and those who were willing to buy and store were rewarded.
What is happening should shock the oil producers into acting in a more meaningful way to shore up the price of oil. Despite the covid-19 lockdown oil producers continued pumping oil regardless of the growing glut. The planned OPEC cuts aren’t set to kick in until 8th May. It will take either a hefty increase in demand, or another round of deeper cuts to take the panic out of the market. Given that any easing of lock down measures will be slow and controlled, that only leaves more action from OPEC+ as an option to stabilise the price.
Energy stocks are unsurprisingly falling hard on the open and could struggle to find a floor in the current climate.
UK jobless claims jump – a hint of what’s to come
UK jobless claims increased by a better than expected, but still horrendous 12,200 in March, well above the 5,900 count from the previous month. This figure gives us a taste of what is to come. The UK will have been on lock down across the whole of April, meaning economic activity will have been on hold for a month, unemployment is expected to keep on rising.
The UK figures are holding up better than in the US, which has seen a jobless claim jump by 21 million over a 4-week period. This is because firstly the US measures on a weekly basis rather than monthly, meaning that it is more current. Secondly, the UK governments furlough system is also offering significant support. So far British firms have put 1 million employees on leave, with the government to pay 80% of their wage. These people may otherwise have been made redundant. Whilst the pound managed to pick up off session lows sub $1.24 following the jobs report, sterling continues to trade weaker versus the safe haven US Dollar. This at least offers some support to the FTSE.
Looking ahead there are plenty of events which could inject further volatility into the markets. US homes sales will be in focus later today. With social distancing preventing sellers from meeting buyers and houses from being viewed, a steep fall in sales is forecast. AA drop in the region of -8.1% has been pencilled in. Finally, US stock stocks earnings kick off today with Netflix and Snap in focus.