9th March 2020
Market update – Oil + COVID-19
Oil price plunge adds to stock markets pressures from Coronavirus
While most people spent the weekend dealing with the prospect of the COVID-19 epidemic taking hold of UK life, the financial community woke up this morning to another, different – even if slightly more familiar – type of upset: an oil price shock that unfolded over the weekend.
Oil prices have plunged by more than 30% since last week. Together with recent declines, this means that the price of oil has more than halved since the beginning of the year. At the same time, a flight to the perceived safety of government bonds has pushed up bond prices, leading to the lowest yields ever seen on US Treasuries as a result of the inverse relationship between bond prices and their yields.
As a consequence of the double whammy, the already highly nervous stock markets have reacted with what can only be described as panic selling. After falls of around 5% in Asia, European stock markets are opening down by at least as much and in some cases more.