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Commodities

Four things to know about the historic oil price plunge

Crude treated like 'garbage' shows turmoil in world's largest commodity market

A crude oil pump jack and flare burning excess gas in Texas. A key U.S. oil price contract turned negative for the first time on Monday.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Even in a world becoming more used to the convulsions of the coronavirus pandemic, the breakdown in oil trading -- turning the price negative for the first time in history on Monday, followed by more turmoil on Tuesday -- has been astonishing.

West Texas Intermediate, a reference benchmark for U.S. oil trading, plummeted to a barely comprehensible -$37 per barrel on Monday. At any price below zero, sellers of oil are paying buyers to take it off their hands.

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