In early May, I wrote that I thought the bounce in Oil was over, as most of my upside price targets had been met. Price has gone nowhere since, with a lack of follow through on the part of both buyers, and sellers. Admittedly, I’ve been bearish on oil this past month, and depending on the way you’ve played that theme, that may have been the right call. For example, US energy stocks and correlated markets like Russia, have sold off and provided swing-short opportunities. Crude Oil futures however, have held up quite well, thereby leaving you about flat if you played this thesis straight up. With that, I took the some time today to see what’s going on in this market and if there are any opportunities for a trade after this month of congestion.
First off, I think it’s important to look at the backdrop that helped spark the March rally off the lows. Beginning in March, we were entering the best seven month period of the year for Crude. Today, we’re still within that period, but the average performance in June and July isn’t quite as stellar as tends to be in March and April. Additionally, commercial hedgers were reducing short positions in March, hitting multi-year highs in terms of long positions, but have since began adding to short positions again. Lastly, in March, public sentiment was at 13 year lows, but we’ve since seen optimism move higher with price and come well off the lows.
Today, sentiment and seasonality do provide a slightly bullish tailwind for price, but overall, it’s not nearly as big a factor as it was at the March lows.
Looking at price on the weekly chart, it’s clear that Crude is in a structural downtrend, as shown by the declining 200 week simple moving average. Earlier in the year prices successfully tested, and confirmed, the uptrend line from the ’03 and ’09 lows, while momentum positively diverged. This, along with extreme sentiment readings and a strong seasonal backdrop ignited a nice rally off the lows. Prices are now consolidating above key support in the $55 area, which bulls want to see hold, or we risk a retest of the lows.