Springtime in the oil market.
Ah spring. The birds are chirping, the trees are budding and of course the oil market is rallying. Strong data on spending and a lot of springtime optimism set oil up for a big time rally, in fact the biggest in about six weeks. It is very possible that the rally would not have been as strong if it were not for the fact that many traders were absent as they prepared for Passover and the joys of spring break and Easter. That is not to say that the oil market did not have compelling reasons to rally because it did. The euro rallied as Greece sold a €5 billion seven-year bond issue. Good consumer data and stories out of China that PetroChina will spend at least $60 billion in the next decade on overseas acquisitions in a bid to control oil and gas fields. We also had geopolitical concerns arising from the terrorist bombing in Moscow and stories in the paper about attack scenarios surrounding Iran and yes indeed the market had a lot of compelling bullish stories. There was even more to rally about out of Nigeria from rebels promising more chaos. The problem for the bulls is that despite all those reasons to rally, the market remains range bound as it has been for months.
At the same time today there is a lot of bearish news coming out of OPEC .The Wall Street Journal reports that, "On Monday, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries indicated that it is moving to boost production, demonstrating again its commitment to trying to keep oil prices from rising too high. And the closely watched relationship between current and future crude prices is starting to shift in a manner that indicates investors may be betting on surplus supply in the future." The Journal goes on to say, "Recently, however, a move to the top end of that range had some traders anticipating a breakout move to a higher price. That reflected a belief that the economy was improving and growth in developing markets would drain what had been plentiful supplies. But the breakout hasn't occurred. And traders have become less willing to pay a high premium to lock in supplies months down the road. That can be best seen in the narrowing of the gap between the price of oil for immediate delivery and the price for future delivery-a sign that buyers think supply may be more robust than demand in the future." The Financial Times Carola Hoyos reports that OPEC, "has revived projects that they have put on hold when oil prices collapsed to close to $30 dollars a barrel last year. Abdalla El-Badri, OPEC secretary General said that all 35 projects that had been delayed or considered to be canceled are now backing on track. The FT also reports that, "Oil prices could stay within the $70-$80 a barrel range for 10 years, the OPEC oil cartel said on Monday, arguing that lower prices would deter investment in new energy supply but higher prices would hamper economic growth. "For the next decade, nominal prices are assumed to stay in the $70-$80 a barrel range, while longer term they are assumed to remain in the $70-$100 a barrel range," the cartel said in a paper for the International Energy Forum, the oil consumers and producers' gathering that starts on Tuesday in Cancun, Mexico."
For months we have been saying that oil is locked in a range. We also feel that oil is eventually going to break out to the downside. We feel that rising rates on the long end of the yield curve and the historic inverted 10 year swap trading under 10 year yields is sign allying a major shift in the global market place. The market place is signaling that we will have to soon start planning on a removal of economic stimulus or face the reality of problems in financing our debt. This is a long-term negative for oil even as oil has its strongest seasonal upside tendencies in the beauty of spring.
Phil Flynn is senior energy analyst for PFGBest Research and a Fox Business Network contributor. He can be reached at (800) 935-6487 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.