Oil prices ended New York trading in the negative for the first time, as a supply glut forced traders to pay others to take the commodity.

With space to store oil scarce, US benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for May delivery ended trading at -$37.63 a barrel ahead of tomorrow's close for futures contracts - when traders who buy and sell the commodity for profit would have had to take physical possession of it.

The WTI contract for June delivery is trading at a still low $22 a barrel.

US oil prices crashed earlier today to nearly $11 per barrel, the lowest level since 1998, extending a dizzying plunge to almost 40% on abundant supplies and virus-sapped demand.

The European benchmark contract, London Brent North Sea oil for June delivery, was down 6.1% at $26.38 a barrel.

Signs that the coronavirus may have peaked in Europe and the US failed to lift Asian and European financial markets generally. 

Traders are instead becoming more and more concerned that oil storage facilities are reaching their limits, as stockpiles continue to build owing to the crash in demand caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Analysts said this month's agreement between OPEC and its peers to slash output by 10 million barrels a day was having little impact because of the virus lockdowns and travel restrictions that are keeping billions of people at home. 

WTI was hit particularly hard as its main US storage facilities in Cushing, Oklahoma, were filling up, with analysts saying refineries were not processing crude fast enough.

There are also plenty of supplies from the Middle East with no buyers as freight costs are high, they added. 


Read more: Why oil prices turned negative for the first time