Oil took a phenomenal turn lower this week as news came out that half of Saudi Arabia’s oil production had been taken out via drone strikes. Yemeni’s took credit, but many suspect it actually came at the hands of Iran. Oil moved in a big way, up 20% at one point, representing the biggest percentage move in three decades. The drone strike is hugely consequential, as it removed 5% of the world’s daily oil supply. Airlines stocks were hit badly on the news, and Amazon may be the next big victim as higher oil prices mean higher shipping costs.
FINSUM: This big change is going to filter through markets in different ways, but the threat to Amazon seems real and very meaningful.
All the signs seem to point to commodity prices headed lower. Why you may ask? Pretty simple—the economy looks to be weakening, so demand will be lower at a time when supply will stay high. But no so fast, says Evercore, who argues that oil prices may be in for a counterintuitive rise of at least 19% by the end of the year. Evercore contends that production will be flat this year, as OPEC is curtailing output. At the same time, global monetary policy easing is likely to sustain demand, meaning the basic picture for oil may be more bullish.
FINSUM: We think this is an optimistic view that does not take full account of the worsening economic outlook.
We know, we know, you don’t want to hear about oil. No one seems interested in the all-important commodity at the moment, but that is exactly why you might want to pay attention. Oil stocks have had a terrible decade—down 10% while the S&P 500 rose almost 300%, hence the derision they face from investors. Prices are so low that oil now composes just 4.5% of the S&P 500, very near to the lowest ever (in 1999). The big question investors need to be asking themselves is “is this peak pessimism”?
FINSUM: We think oil stocks offer some value right now, but what will be the catalyst to make them rise? A big economic boom seems unlikely at present. Oil missed this cycle and it is still oversupplied. We would stay away.
Oil prices are going to get some support as OPEC is planning to cut its output. That won’t be welcome news to those at the pump this summer, but it is good for the oil industry. Within the cuts, there will be winners and losers. One big worry is that the cuts won’t even work because there is still too much production from the US and because the primary fears are on the demand side, not the production side. The key is to buy oil stocks that can thrive in a low price environment and deliver improving returns to investors. These include EOG Resources, Suncor, Pioneer Natural Resources, NRG Energy, and Delek.
FINSUM: Oil stocks are deeply out of favor right now, so this is quite a contrarian call, but given the catalyst of OPEC cut they may be a solid bet.
Oil is looking likely to fall sharply, and not just because the world’s economy is looking soft. According to the IEA, oil supply is likely to dwarf demand next year, which will very likely lead to lower prices. Many new projects will come online, boosting oil supply far more than demand, which may only grow slightly, or even shrink if the economy heads downward. This will put more pressure on OPEC.
FINSUM: Nothing is looking bullish about oil other than geopolitical tensions (the effects of which tend to blow over quickly).