Plunging crude oil prices beat up market

Oil prices plunged to negative prices. Georgia is making plans to open back up non-essential businesses this week. And the stock market took another dive.

It’s a lot to keep up with. Here’s Alabama’s latest economic news — good and bad. And a few things to know about how swiftly-changing national policies could affect you.

What you need to know tonight
U.S. crude oil prices plunged more than 100 percent on Monday dragging the markets down with them.

Prices for West Texas Intermediate fell to negative $37.63 a barrel which, improbably, means the company will actually have to pay to get companies to take the oil off its hands. It is the first time an oil futures contract finished as a negative price, according to multiple reports.

With the majority of the country shut down and not traveling like normal, the demand for crude oil has crumbled. The International Energy Agency warned last month that April oil demand could be 29 million barrels per day — yes, you read that correctly — than they were a year ago. With less demand and usage of the oil, storage facilities keeping already owned oil have filled up creating the situation WTI experienced Monday.

It’s yet another industry the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly impacted and further showcased just how volatile the markets will likely continue to be for the foreseeable future. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500 and Nasdaq all fell at least one percentage point at the close of Monday’s trading.

One of Alabama’s neighbors is planning to open back up its economy this week.

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp announced Monday that shuttered businesses like gyms, salons and bowling alleys can reopen this Friday (April 24) in one of the most aggressive moves a state leader has made yet. The statewide order allows those businesses to reopen with the only requirement being that they maintain social distancing.

It comes days after Alabama Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth laid out a plan to reopen Alabama that Governor Kay Ivey has yet to commit to. Ivey said last week a return to normal wouldn’t be a “quick or simple process” after the plan recommended reopening many types of businesses by May 1 after Ivey’s stay-at-home order expired April 30.

Ivey hasn’t committed to a plan like Kemp but did call for Congress to provide more funding for the Payment Protection Plan after it ran out of money last week less than two weeks after being enacted.

“I look forward to Congress taking action this week,” Ivey said. “Alabama small businesses, I stand with you. We will get through this together.”