Monday, November 19, 2018

Crude froth goes before a fall?

What a commotion we had in the oil markets last week, when Tuesday's (November 13) session saw an intraday decline of 8% for the West Texas Intermediate, and a near similar drop for the Brent front-month contract. 

Long calls unravelled in higher numbers as the market increasingly came to the realisation that there was still plenty of crude oil in the market regardless of the Trump versus Iran situation. Of course, as it tends to happen, when the market oversells or overcorrects, a recovery run follows. As it were, come Friday, Brent was down by 4.87% and WTI was down 6.19% on the previous week’s closing position. 

If nothing else, what the selloff did was ensure a puncturing of bullish illusions and flag up the fact (again!) that three crude oil producers alone – US, Saudi Arabia and Russia – were pumping more than all of OPEC, albeit with very different geopolitical agendas of their own. The sudden decline also makes for an interesting OPEC meeting scheduled for December 6. 

Nonetheless, the proof is in the 'crude' pudding – i.e. the latest CFTC and ICE data which points to a decline in global net-long positions. Starting with Brent contracts – for the week ending November 13, money managers' net long positions fell 17% to 214,832 contracts; the lowest level on record in nearly 18 months. 

Concurrently, WTI net-long positions fell 5.2% to 151,984 futures; the lowest since August 2017. Anyone for $100? That's all for the moment folks! Keep reading, keep it ‘crude’!

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© Gaurav Sharma 2018. Photo © Cairn Energy 

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