The U.S. has voiced its concerns over the Saudi-Russian oil price war, but thus far, those concerns appear to have fallen on deaf ears. In an interview that was broadcast on CNBC, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) answer the question, “Do you think President Trump should try to use his influence with Russia or Saudi Arabia to try to get them to stop producing so much oil?”
“Absolutely. I think that is a major priority especially for my home state of Texas. And if you look what happened, right in the midst of the coronavirus crisis, a public health crisis that is dominating our focus, and an economic crisis that is flowing from it. Millions of people losing their jobs.
“The Saudis and Russians decided to take advantage of that crisis by flooding the market and driving the price of oil way, way down. And that was opportunistic. It was designed with a very specific purpose. The Saudis are trying to drive out of business American producers, and in particular shale producers, largely in the Permian Basin in Texas, North Dakota and in a number of oil producing states across the country.
“That behavior I think is wrong. I think it is taking advantage of a country that is a friend.
“A couple of weeks ago, I joined with thirteen senators in a letter to the Saudi Ambassador to pull back and stop trying to drive the price down to artificially low. Nine of the thirteen did a conference call with Saudi Ambassador that was as candid a call and direct a call as I’ve ever had with a foreign leader. The nine of us unloaded on her. And their defense was but Russia is doing this.
Are the metals markets ending a price correction in unison and preparing for a massive price advance? This is the question we asked our research team to investigate and their findings may help skilled traders identify great opportunities in the future. This multi-part research article will share our most recent opinion about the metals markets as well as share some critical new data that can shed some light into what we believe will become a massive upside price rally in the metals markets. Let’s get into the data.
When one considers the global demand for Gold as a hedge against economic crisis events and the continued advancement in gold reserves for China and Russia, one has to consider the supply side issues that are a result of central banks global demand. Even though global production of Gold is near an all-time high, the demand from foreign nations and central banks are also near all-time highs. This correlation creates a demand-side consumption that offsets supply and, in some ways limits, consumer, retail and technology suppliers.
Our researchers focused on this aspect of the supply/demand equation when trying to analyze recent metals price action in correlation to disruptions that could occur in the markets. For example, increased central bank buying/hoarding of gold could dramatically result in prices spiking. Foreign market disruptions in supply could also send prices spiking. Global conflicts and or continued trade issues could send metals prices skyrocketing. Anything to do with the supply side for Gold could send prices higher. At least this is the conclusion of our research team at this time. Continue reading "Metals Moving In Unison For A Massive Price Advance: Part 1"→
It is interesting how often exaggerated expectations prove to be wrong in the market. Crude oil is the dominant fossil fuel energy source, and therefore it draws a lot of attention as well as speculation.
Looking back, I remember a conversation with my boss earlier in the year who had talked to a large oil producing company and they said that it is highly improbable for crude oil to get over $55 per barrel amid the supply glut. WTI crude almost hit the $73 level this month to break similar pessimistic forecasts that had persisted in the market last year. OPEC’s deal together with Middle East tensions has driven the oil price to a 3-year high benefiting oil producing countries.
But these days I have started to hear different highly optimistic forecasts calling for $80-100 per barrel. When these voices began to grow into a full choir, I began to expect the thunder as this “sweet unison” is the leading contrarian indicator. Continue reading "Crude Oil Could Crash Again"→
On November 30, 2016, OPEC’s press release announcing the supply target of 32.5 million barrels per day included the following reference to inventories:
“The numbers underscore that the market rebalancing is underway, but the Conference stressed that OECD and non-OECD inventories still stand well above the five-year average. The Conference said it was vital that stock levels were drawn down to normal levels.”
Since the middle of 2017, OPEC has compared the OECD inventories to the five-year average, which had been 2010 to 2015. At some point in 2017, OPEC adjusted the five-year average to include 2011 to 2016. In doing so, it included two-and-a-half years of glutted (not normal) inventory levels. The effect was to make current levels appear to be closer to “normal” levels.
Given that OECD inventories are approaching the elevated five-year average, Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih has recently questioned that yardstick.
"Do we need to adjust for rising demand and look at forward day cover? How do we deal with non-OECD inventory? (It's) less transparent and reliable,” Falih said. “We have to think of the global market, the center of demand has shifted from OECD to non-OECD.”
Using historical supply-demand data and prices, I found a correlation between stocks and prices over time, but it is far from precise. That makes sense because price behavior is much more complex than using one measurement to define it. Market sentiment and positioning tend to cause prices to overshoot and undershoot equilibrium prices. To paraphrase the Noble Prize-winning economist Robert Shiller, prices are more volatile than the fundamentals imply.
Using monthly data from January 2008 through December 2017 (a full 10-year period), I found a -79% correlation. The Cartesian coordinate graph is depicted below:
I developed a simple linear regression to fit prices, given the inventory level, and graphed the actual prices with fitted prices:
This illustrates how far prices can travel from an equilibrium price, especially in 2008-09. On the other hand, the fitted prices do match up with actual prices over time. And the December 2017 fitted price ($61) is quite close to the actual price ($58).
This historical analysis begs the question, where are prices likely to go in 2018 and 2019? It also serves as a guide for understanding what stock level OPEC+ needs to achieve by withholding supplies.
To answer the first question, I used EIA’s STEO forecast of OECD stocks for 2018 and 2019. The forecast shows stocks bottoming in February, which would correspond to a topping of prices at $63.76, using this methodology. It implies that the $66.66 reached in January is likely to be the peak for 2018 and 2019, with prices dropping back into the lower $40s next year.
I also included EIA’s own price forecast on the graph for comparison. It shows similar expectations for the first half of 2018, but that prices will hold above $55 for the forecast period.
Regarding OPEC’s target, the regression shows that if inventories remain right about where they were at end-December (2.870 billion), the WTI price would remain at $60/b. If it wants $70/b, it needs to get OECD stocks to drop to about 2.800 billion. By the way, the latest 5-year monthly moving average is at 2.830 billion.
This model is very simplistic and does not include the impact of trader positioning and sentiment, which I believe are highly influential to the price. For example, the large drop in prices during the first week of February illustrated that factor. I use my Vertical Risk Management model to assess sentiment for positioning.
The other qualification is that the marginal cost of production and the timing of supply response have changed greatly due to the shale oil revolution. The large inventory of DUCs and much faster response of short-cycle oil has changed the market. For those reasons, lower inventories are required to support the same price. On the other hand, there is much more demand at the same price than compared to five to ten years ago. On balance, those two factors may be doing a good job canceling each other out since my regression using forward cover, instead of stocks, produced a lower correlation.
Disclosure: This contributor does not own any stocks mentioned in this article. This article is the opinion of the contributor themselves. The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. This contributor is not receiving compensation (other than from INO.com) for their opinion.
On January 2, 2018, Byron R. Wien, Vice Chairman in the Private Wealth Solutions group at Blackstone, issued his list of Ten Surprises for 2018. “Byron defines a “surprise” as an event that the average investor would only assign a one out of three chance of taking place but which Byron believes is “probable,” having a better than 50% likelihood of happening.”
Byron’s Ten Surprises for 2018 includes
“The price of West Texas Intermediate Crude moves above $80. The price rises because of continued world growth and unexpected demand from developing markets, together with disappointing hydraulic fracking production, diminished inventories, OPEC discipline and only modest production increases from Russia, Nigeria, Venezuela, Iraq, and Iran.” Continue reading "Why $80 Crude Oil Is Highly Unlikely In 2018"→