Oil drops below $20 a barrel, later rebounds slightly

Oil prices plunged on Friday as the worldwide fallout from the coronavirus outbreak intensified.

The price of U.S. crude oil dropped about 21% for a period on Friday afternoon.  Prices dropped below $20 a barrel by 3 p.m.  They later rebounded to about $23.50.  Prices were around $60 a barrel to start the year.

Oil has been plunging as investors anticipate a sharp drop in demand for energy as manufacturing, travel and commerce grind nearly to a halt.

Stocks gave up an early rally and turned slightly lower Friday after New York became the latest major state to mandate nearly all workers stay home to limit the spread of the coronavirus.


The action taken by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, coming just a day after California announced similar measures, is another sign that large swaths of the U.S. economy are coming to a standstill as restaurants, retailers and other businesses dependent on consumer traffic are forced to close doors and furlough or lay off workers.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average erased an early gain of 444 points and was down 180 points, or 0.9%, in afternoon trading.

The slide wiped out the index's gains from a day earlier and deepened the market's losses in what's been another brutal week on Wall Street. The Dow is down 14% for the week.

Investors are weighing the likelihood that the global economy is entering a recession because of the massive shutdowns and layoffs caused by the outbreak against steps by central banks and governments to ease the economic pain.

Ultimately, investors say they need to see the number of new infections stop accelerating for the market’s volatile skid to ease.


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