As with everything in life, there are winners and losers, and the recent rout in the oil market is no different. The four flip sides below should be closely monitored in the coming months, for the oil market will be impacted by these factors – regardless of if they change their tune, or become a broken record.
A constant stream of hyprocrisy from Fed officials (will print moar money if stuff happens), The EIA (storage is getting fuller and fuller, but production will be lower than expected), and Saudi Oil Minister Naimi's idiocy (increased production, demanding non-OPEC cooperation, but optimistic on prices recovering in the short-term) has sent crude asymmetrically rocketing higher... which is now apparently a good thing for US equities.
Even before the disappointing US jobs data, we anticipated a downside correction in the dollar after a sharp advance in Q1.
As the market ponders how quickly an Iran nuclear deal and subsequent lifting of sanctions will affect crude prices, record production in Iraq leaves 5% of the world's tanker fleet parked in the Persian Gulf.
Fifth ramp in 5 days takes WTI crude back above $49 for the first time in 2 weeks... on the heels of record production, record streak of inventory builds, and record inventory at Cushing. The 1Y spread has compressed to 2-month lows...
U.S. oil producers are issuing new shares of stock at the fastest pace in more than a decade, looking to investors for a cash lifeline to pay down debt and keep drilling as crude prices continue to sink, Bloomberg notes, a move which paradoxically will only serve to depress prices further.
"The debt borne by the oil and gas sector has increased two and a half times over, from roughly $1 trillion in 2006 to around $2.5 trillion in 2014. As the price of oil is a proxy for the value of the underlying assets that underpin that debt, its recent decline may have caused significant financial strains and induced retrenchment by the sector as a whole. If the adjustment takes the form of increased current or future sales of oil, it may amplify the fall in the oil price.
10 days we warned "the sharp slide in crude prices may be leading the proverbial sheep to slaughter," as we noted ther surge in Oil ETF USO's shares outstanding and the spike in Oil price contango - a potentially ugly combination for an ETF ahead of the roll. Since then, USO has indeed tumbled over 14%. However, it;s not over yet - in the last 3 days alone, the USO share count has soared 10% (the fastest pace in 2 months) almost at its Feb 2009 record highs as investors "know" the bottom is in now and continue to catch the gapping-lower-every-day, massively contango'd, ETF knife...
Just a few short days ago we were the first to bring attention to the potential of an Iran nuclear deal being a catalyst for the next big leg lower in the energy complex and sure enough, not only is the market startuing to leg lower in a hurry as the deadline looms, but the mainstream media is catching on too. WTI hit fresh cycle lows this morning at $42.63 with the contango continuing to surge.
Update: *WTI CRUDE TRADES AT LOWEST INTRADAY PRICE SINCE MARCH 2009 - $43.57
Despite 'trouble' in Saudi Arabia, and chatter of SPR buying, it appears the re-opening of all Houston shipping channels, comments from Greenspan, yet another refinery shut (Exxon's Joliet lost power), and the rapidly filling storage capacity has awakened the realization that the month-long dead-cat-bounce is over in crude. Brent broke below $53.50 and WTI back to a $43 handle (close to the lowest levels in 6 years) at the open. One can only imagine the pressure on USO (Oil ETF) holders as the contango continues to gap wider. EURUSD is teasing the crucial 1.05 level again...
Having recently explained why the stock market is extremely overvalued (in his own words by Fed-driven multiple expansion alone), Alan Greenspan - seemingly brimming over with the need to remedy his years of lies/mistruths with some uncomfortable truthiness - is now taking on the US Dollar ("it is not from a strong US economy but a weak rest of the world") and oil prices (America has a massive surplus of oil and there may soon be nowhere to store all of it, "we'll be lucky if we can get $40 for it.")
There is a possibility of a nuclear deal being agreed between the P5 + 1 nations and Iran next Friday, 20th March. This may be the precursor for energy stocks to recouple to downside and for spending cuts to spread from capex to dividends for majors.
"We believe that the key force pushing commodity markets higher has been retail investor inflows into oil ETFs [and] apart from the obvious disconnect between recent price trends and physical fundamentals, the rationale of going long oil on an expected normalization or 'mean reversion' also suffers from an incomplete view of how commodity returns are generated," Goldman says on the way to predicting further weakness for crude.