President Obama is going to open up some off shore drilling. April fool! No, I am not kidding but as exciting as that might be, the oil market is not reacting to drill, drill, drill but to jobs, jobs, jobs. A weak ADP employment report and today super hot data coming out of China was enough to make traders forget about a bearish supply report from the Energy Information Agency and the prospects of perhaps maybe someday more domestic oil and gas production. Oil prices are soaring to the major resistance of $85, an area that if taken out would break us out of almost a 17-month trading range. Of course it is not a breakout until it is so let's focus on what is driving that the madness.
First, it is the weak ADP employment data. After last month's supposed snowstorm influenced monthly jobs report, the hopes were rising that perhaps this month's jobs number released on Good Friday might be a blockbuster. Yet a disappointing jobs ADP report showed a decline of 23,000 private-sector jobs as opposed to the 50,000 gain that had been expected. This was very bullish for oil because it reinforces the belief that interest rates in the United States will stay lower longer than expected as the fed will be reluctant to remove this historic and massive stimulus from the system. This in turn will weigh on the dollar and drive up oil demand built upon cheap money, not to mention some smoke and mirrors.
This news was enough to make traders eventually shrug off a bearish EIA report. The EIA reported that crude oil inventories increased by 2.9 million barrels last week. That puts us at 354.2 million barrels is 6.5% above the five-year average. As for gas a surprising increase of 0.3 million barrels last week, putting supplies 4.9% above the five year average. Distillates fell by 1.1 million barrels but are still a whopping 19.6% above the five year average.
Oil is being driven even higher on strong manufacturing data out of China. China's official PMI rose to 55.1 in March from 52.0 in February which was higher than expected and showing that China's economy is continuing to soar. We see strong growth that will send inflation surging in China and a government that due to pride and political reasons, may be reluctant at this point to try to slow things down. This is adding to the momentum in oil. Playing hardball with the Chinese over its currency means the risk of creating a bubble in China has gone up. The Chinese will more than likely wait too long to slow things down raising a risk of a crash that can have global implications. Of course that may not be today and that is a story for down the road.
Since the beginning of this year I have been saying that oil had the potential to break down to $40 a barrel based upon my longer term wave charts. Of course I also said that the possibility would be negated if oil closed above $85 a barrel. Yet I also said that the move would not be straight down and that instead of taking a longer term position it might be more advantageous to trade the ranges from both the long and short side. I said back then if you had to take a position on a long term basis back in January would be short with a stop above $85. Still I recommended also that this move would not be straight down and I thought it would be better to trade the ranges as opposed to a straight short position or long position. Along the way we have played oil from both the long end and short end. I reasoned that oil was caught basically in two congruent trading ranges between $75 and $85 and a lower range between$65 and $75. Since we made that call oil has fallen as low as 6859 only to rally back up to a 17 month high. We have seasonal strength, global macro economics conditions, along with strong demand out of China - where the government is playing politics and therefore will be less likely to try and reign in inflation - has oil threatening to negate the longer term bearish formation. If oil closes above $85 expect another new trading range peaking around $95. That is only if oil closes above $85.00. We will be taking off next week so have a Happy Easter and we will see you when we get back.
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.