Crude oil prices fell into negative territory this week for the first time in history. The negative pricing means that an investor with a long position in oil would have to pay someone to take their oil investment off their hands.
The historic drop has sent shockwaves through the market. The New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) West Texas Market Intermediate Crude Oil contract for May 2020 dropped to a negative price of -$37.63. This price is the basis for determining the settlement price for cash-settled contracts listed on the CME Globex and on a separate, expiring cash-settled futures contract listed on the Intercontinental Exchange Europe.
According to a press release from Interactive Brokers, Inc., “several” Interactive Brokers, LLC customers held long positions in CME and Intercontinental Exchange Europe contracts, causing them to incur losses in excess of the equity in their accounts.
IBLLC has fulfilled its required variation margin settlements with clearinghouses on behalf of its customers and recognized a provisional loss of approximately $88 million.
Customers who lost their entire account equity, however, may have a right to recover their losses if their positions in these contracts were unsuitable and/or recommended to the customers by means of a misleading sales presentation.