Recent strong price weakness reflects two factors. First, growth of crude supply has exceeded
expectations of early this year as US crude output has surged to formidable levels. Second,
growth of global industrial output measured yr/yr has slowed from 4% earlier in 2014 down to
about 3% recently reflecting disappointing results in the EU, Japan and China. Small increments
in spare capacity at the wellhead can lead to substantial price adjustments when they first appear.
Hence, WTI crude has fallen from $107.50 bl this Jun. down to around the $78 area.
To counter the US crude production surge, the Saudi's are offering discounts on crude shipped to
the US. We can assume the Saudi's have been estimating break evens on new crude and we'll
see how that works. Since the US is the major arms supplier to Saudi Arabia, we are not without
a degree of counter leverage if we want to use it.
The US and China are now limiting liquidity support to the world economy. Japan is stepping up
with additional QE to ramp its exports. The EU is in turmoil about monetary stimulus and we
can only wait to see whether they will muster a truly substantive program of monetary easing
to counter a continuing sluggish and now deflation prone economy.
The crude price is in a steep downtrend and a deep oversold has developed. Chart indicators
show this point along with another technical item worthy of note: Crude is closing in on a
20% discount to its 200 day m/a, a discount that will attract trader attention. WTIC Daily
With the peak driving season well past, crude is in a seaonally weak period that can not only
last through mid-Dec. but resume again in Jan., and run through to the normal seasonal low in
Feb. Thus on a seasonal basis, the rewards to buying an oversold market may be more limited
than normal. As well, as the chart on the crude future shows in the bottom panel below, there
has been very large speculative interest on the long side from financial players who have only
recently begun to unwind their big positions. There are over 200K contracts out now and as
the chart shows those positions can zero out if players become sour enough. Crude fut. + COT
I like to trade crude, but I'll bide my time for now and watch for indications of a positive
- Peter Richardson
- Retired chief investment officer and former NYSE firm partner with 50 plus years experience in field as analyst / economist, portfolio manager / trader, and CIO who has superb track record with multi $billion equities and fixed income portfolios. Advanced degrees, CFA. Having done much professional writing as a young guy, I now have a cryptic style. 40 years down on and around The Street confirms: CAVEAT EMPTOR IN SPADES !!!