Crude oil bears are scattering after China is signaling they will start to open their markets and take steps to guard foreign intellectual property. The speech by the Chinese President seems to suggest that President Donald Trump’s tactics of playing hardball is having the desired effect. China, of course, had its currency pegged to the dollar until 2014 and has charged many countries unfair tariffs and realized that they were trying to defend undependable trade practices.
The energy sector ranked the last in sector performances in 2017. In June 2017, crude oil traded at a low of $42.37 per barrel and many analysts expected lower prices with a target of $40 or lower as energy market sentiment has been bearish. Crude oil turned bullish in August 2017, when it broke a pattern of lower lows and lower highs by failing to take out the June low.
Friday’s steep declines in the markets were driven by weak employment report and a war of words between the United States and China, but seemed to have been shrugged off in Asia trade. While trade tensions and geopolitical risks are likely to keep the appetite for risk in check, investors will have new information to digest this week, particularly earnings from big banks and U.S. inflation data.
Crude oil is trying to hold ground after Friday’s fear-based market sell-off. Tariff fears and then talks of global growth fears after a sub-par jobs report, not to mention a rising rig count, sent oil lower. Yet, we also have current strong demand, falling OPEC productions and a possibility of a major reaction by the United States after Syria allegedly crossed the chemical weapons line in the sand.
Instead of pickin’ a guitar or banjo, and I do play five instruments like everyone here in Nashville, I’m tryin’ to pick some market directions early using a 3-day chart, in case you want to follow along. I must predict next week’s markets earlier this week (on April 4) due to being out of town April 5 and 6. Let’s see how I do, modifying time frames with next week’s pivots not yet well formed nor fixed in place until Fri. close--I’m pivotless!
U.S. crude oil production is at a record high but supplies of oil keep falling. Did you stop to wonder why? Well, there are many reasons, such as record demand, but a larger issue has to do with shale oil. Yesterday’s oil initially rallied on a report that Saudi Arabia was raising crude prices for customers showing that they are confident about demand and not worried about losing market share.
In 2007 crude oil began the year priced at $60 per barrel. By July 11, 2008, it rose to $145.66, which was a nearly 150% increase, and a 31.6% increase in a little more than half a year. Southwest Airlines (LUV) was the only airline that hedged its largest variable cost. Southwest was paying $30 per barrel less than most of its competitors. In a little over five months later, on Dec. 26, WTI had dropped all the way down to $32.34. That’s a 77.8% decrease.
Planes and cars and steel is one thing, but now it’s serious because we are talking soybeans. China decided to hit at the heart of U.S. China trade by taxing the beloved American soybean. The move was viewed by the market as the first real sign that the potential trade war is serious because China loves and need U.S. soybeans. Historically, China introduced the United States to the soybean and we have been happy to sell them back to them.
Crude oil might have hit the gas pedal, but equity investors have been left on the sidelines as energy stocks continue to struggle even as the price of crude rallies. Energy stocks seem like an easy way to play the recovery in crude prices, but the disappointing performance of most energy funds tells a different story.
It ’s often a complicated question, and when it comes to markets, the “why” often takes a backseat to the “what” that is happening and “how” it should be traded. Nonetheless, it can be worthwhile to understand why a market relationship occurs, so that you can adjust more quickly than the competition when the relationship inevitably changes.