Spot prices vs. future pricesSpot prices refer to current market prices under which a commodity such as one barrel of crude oil may be bought for immediate delivery. They are opposed to future prices, which refer to settlement and delivery at a later date. As a major refinery and storage hub, Cushing in Oklahoma is the delivery location for WTI traded via the New York Mercantile Exchange. When storage capacities threatened to reach their maximum capacity in April 2020, the WTI oil price crashed as a result, trading at record low prices. The WTI oil price fell into negative numbers for the first time in its history, closing out at negative 37.63 U.S. dollars per barrel on April 20th. The lowest value for Brent prices was 19.33 U.S. dollars per barrel.
Since late 2020, future oil prices have traded above 50 U.S. dollars buoyed by the roll-out of coronavirus vaccines and announced production cuts by Saudi Arabia for February and March.