Displaying items by tag: energy
Is the oil market a leading indicator of what is to come in the economy? Do we have way more supply and infrastructure to deliver it than there is demand to gobble it up? Oil was at $11 a barrel this morning, a mind boggling price. Stocks, on the other hand, have rallied hugely, to the point where it sometimes seems like investors have forgotten the country is shut down. Oil is obviously an idiosyncratic market, but if you really take a look at the situation, it is falling because of a big plunge in demand.
FINSUM: Is the oil market just smarter than equities right now? It does seem entirely possible that given the inevitable contraction in consumer spending, we may have more infrastructure to produce and delivery goods and services than we do demand, which means stocks could be in for a very rough patch.
This is a dark day economically. New data is flowing in from many sources, and all of it is pointing to a severe decline in demand that seems ever more likely to push the US into a depression. Unemployment claims came in at another 6.6m this morning, meaning a total of 16.6m Americans have applied in the last three weeks. In other data, fuel and energy demand has fallen so far that it is now at 1960s level. Electricity usage has plummeted on the back of the sharp decline in industrial output.
FINSUM: Let’s do some rough calculations. The US workforce is about 164m people. We started this coronavirus lockdown with just under 4% unemployment, and have since added 16.6m people. By a rough calculation that means we likely have already hit 14% unemployment.
If there was ever a time to take a hard look at investing in oil, this might be it. Black gold just hit an 18-year low, falling under $20 per barrel. Evidently, in physical oil markets, barrels are already changing hands for $10 each. The market is grappling with a price war at the same time as a massive glut of excess oil at a time of sharply shrinking demand.
FINSUM: Two thoughts to weigh here. On the one hand, oil was recently at $63 a barrel (in January), so this is a very substantial fall, which means a potentially great buying opportunity. On the other hand, oil is not nearly as scarce as many thought at the start of the last decade, so it is not inconceivable that prices could stay low for a long time.
Generally speaking, when oil prices fall it is considered good for the economy as it unleashes excess consumer spending. This is what happened in the last big drop in 2014-2015. However, this time around, there are likely to be no winners from the drop. Because the huge fall in prices is coming at a time of significantly reduced economic demand because of the coronavirus, it is hard to imagine that much excess economic activity will be created to account for the drop in oil-related industries.
FINSUM: Supply and demand are tumbling simultaneously across the economy (not just in oil), so it does not seem this will be a net positive like it has been in the past.
Markets are plunging today, and the reason for the huge fall is the complete collapse of the oil market. The trouble is occurring because a price war is erupting in the oil market with Saudi Araba announcing that is was boosting production this morning. The move came as a response to Russia refusing to agree to production cuts to help insulate the market. The oil market responded by falling an eye-watering 30%. That immediately sent stocks plummeting too.
FINSUM: The market is doing its very best to compel Russia to agree to curb production. Surely a production cut wouldn’t cost them 30% of revenue!!