Comm: Precious


The oil market has been doing very well for the last year and a half or so, and has performed especially strongly in 2018, outperforming every major asset class. However, US oil prices fell over 4% yesterday on growing fears of a boost in supply, following a 5% drop last Wednesday. Most of the gains in the market over the last 18 months have been because of coordinated supply cuts by world oil powers. However, while there still are some supply constraint issues on the table (e.g. US sanctions on Iran), the increasing worry is that production may rise more than expected, which would bring prices back down. Further, the US is indicating it may start to use some of its strategic oil reserves in order to avoid another sharp move higher in prices.

FINSUM: To be honest, we have been surprised by how well OPEC has been able to hold the output cut alliance together, so we really should not doubt their ability to continue to do so. That said, we do see at least a plateau coming in prices.


Investors in oil need to be aware—the market is increasingly looking like a price surge is in store. Supply constraints are currently looming over the market, which has pushed prices to a 3.5 year high. Now, some are calling for a spike that would take oil to $150 or, almost double the level of now. The call comes from renowned research house Sanford Bernstein. The logic is that the oil price tumble over the last few years has caused “chronic underinvestment” in supply which will power the next “supercycle”. According to Bernstein, “Any shortfall in supply will result in a super-spike in prices, potentially much larger than the $150 a barrel spike witnessed in 2008”.

FINSUM: The view here seems sound. However, we must saw\y that there is one overarching logic that bothers us about this call—that the world has bountiful oil that has becoming ever cheaper to extract. That makes us think supply constraints could be overcome more quickly.

(New York)

Despite all the fears over a trade war, recession, and bear market, there has been relatively little media chatter surrounding gold. Gold is usually seen as a good hedge to political and market calamity, and while it has seen some gains, there isn’t the usual excitement that surrounds it. All of that may be good news, however, for stocks as the spread between gold and platinum suggests the equity bull market has more room to run, according to a pair of professors from Cornell and USC. The gold-platinum ratio reflects both industrial demand and investor anxiety, and when it is high, it tends to indicate that stocks will perform well.

FINSUM: There are a lot of factors that go into the price relationship between two commodities, so it is hard to draw a conclusion for a third asset class. That said, the logic underlying this argument seems sound.

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