Saturday, February 6, 2010

Betting on Crude Oil to Fall

The continued weakness in the Oil markets is playing havoc across the commodity exporting nations. Russia’s recent emergency measures have confirmed the problems.

With memories of Russia’s effective wiping out of state debt back in 1998 very much to the fore, the chances of anyone coming to their aid is slim. The same can be said for Venezuela, Argentina, Iran etc.

Crude Oil is now pushing to a two year low and, if anything, the outlook looks ever more painful.

Not only this but Airlines and others who hedged their fuel costs earlier this year at $100, $120 per barrel or even higher will now be asked for cash margin on these forward purchased contracts. In the current poor economic situation who would lend to an airline to make a margin call? This could lead to enforced liquidation, if indeed this has not already happened to some. That may well drive the markets much lower. This is not a prospect that leads to a happy prognosis on individual state security.

BA has managed to confound analysts by reporting much higher Turnover than expected but in the same breathe reported a loss of £49m. A £65m profit was expected. Obviously the higher fuel costs were not being offset by the BA surcharges. With Crude Oil now down at around $50 (I would recommend a bit of hedging at these levels) the cut in costs is running against the fall in current passenger numbers. Octobers passenger numbers were down 4.4% on last year. Not exactly surprising. Nevertheless the reported loss can truly be said to be a sign of the past rather than any indication at all of the future. BA is likely to be a last-man-standing airline so selling out at this stage would not appear to be on the cards.

Many complained that the high oil prices were due to speculators pushing the price up. I wonder if those same commentators will cheer the speculators who are supposedly spread betting on crude oil to fall in price. and paddypowertrader have both reported a surge in clients selling oil. The latter has confirmed a 25% increase in the number of accounts shorting crude (betting on oil to go down).

Crude prices have slumped more than 60% in value since hitting record highs of $147 per barrel in July 2008. They are now at their lowest levels since January 2007.

So whilst Russia et al may be experiencing problems, individual investors seem to be on the side of the consumer and driving down the price of oil.

So far OPEC has failed to control the market and the speculators have been winning.

If Russia continues to experience financial difficulties they may have little choice but to continue producing at the same rates and OPEC will have more problems controlling the price.

Is it time to join the speculators or just enjoy cheaper petrol?

NB. Financial spread betting carries a high level of risk and may not be suitable for all classes of investor. Only trade with money that you can afford to lose. Make sure you fully understand the risks involved. If necessary, seek independent financial advice.

(ArticlesBase SC #650028)

Seismic Energy Dissipation Devices

Seismic Energy Dissipation Devices