The spread between West Texas Intermediate (WTI) and Brent Crude oil has long been under the microscope for energy traders across the world. The past few years have seen this spread heavily favor Brent, as it has been trading at a premium to its western cousin for quite some time. But as 2013 unfolds, the spread has been steadily narrowing, much to the surprise of a number of analysts [for more crude oil news and analysis subscribe to our free newsletter].
After a disappointing sell-off in April, crude oil has finally regained some positive momentum, although not necessarily for the most positive reasons. The fossil fuel is currently sitting at a 12-month high, as it finally broke through the triple-digit barrier for the first time since September of 2012. While the riots in Egypt have certainly played a role in the rapid rise in the price of crude, the U.S. supply levels are also playing a key role behind the scenes [for more crude oil news and analysis subscribe to our free newsletter].
The first half of 2013 is officially in the books as commodity investors take a look back on a relatively eventful two quarters. While equities surged to highs never seen before, a number of commodities struggled, as analysts and investors fear that the super-cycle may be nearing its end. But while a number of high profile commodities, like gold, had a tough time this year, there were others that persisted. Below, we outline three commodities who turned in positive performances through the first six months of the year [for more commodity news and analysis subscribe to our free newsletter].
Market manipulation, especially in the commodity space, is nothing new. Hard assets like gold and silver are almost always under scrutiny for fear that large institutions are getting away with fixing the market; JP Morgan just recently escaped such charges concerning silver markets. The latest scandal has hit the European Union, as one trader has stepped forward, detailing how he (and many others) have been able to successfully manipulate Platts oil prices over the years [for more crude oil news and analysis subscribe to our free newsletter].
Backwardation is the process where near-month futures are more expensive than those expiring later in time, which creates a downward sloping curve for prices over time. It is a natural occurrence in the commodity world, but it’s still a phenomenon that traders need to be aware of. Often, a falling futures curve could mean that the market expects the commodity to take a drop in value or that it is currently overpriced [for more commodity futures news and analysis subscribe to our free newsletter].
Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”, has become one of the fastest-growing methods for tapping into abundant shale reserves held within the U.S. The process works by pumping fracturing fluids-like slickwater, gel or foam–into a wellbore at a sufficient enough rate to fracture the rocks below. When these fractures occur, the operator injects proppants into the well to prevent the fractures from closing when the fluid pressure is reduced. And finally, oil and gas leak from the fractures into the well for extraction. But the revolutionary process is not without its drawbacks, as many criticize the side effects caused from fracking. Below, we outline the case against fracking and why a number of people have rallied against this rapidly-developing energy extraction method [for more fracking news and analysis subscribe to our free newsletter].
With the largest single day drop in gold prices dominating the headlines, many consumers have overlooked crude oil’s significant fall in prices as of late. Even without the decline earlier this week, crude has been relatively weak as of late, with few expecting this to change soon. It seems that the pressure keeping prices at bay is only expected to rise in the coming months and years as this commodity may be slowly losing its dominance [for more oil news and analysis subscribe to our free newsletter].
Backwardation and contango are two phenomena that define the futures industry of the commodity world. Though the terms have come handcuffed with a negative connotation, those who understand how they work should not sweat their existence. Backwardation is the process by which near month futures are more expensive than those expiring further into the future, creating a downward sloping curve for future prices over time. Contango, simply, has the opposite impact [for more commodity news and analysis subscribe to our free newsletter].
The U.S. has long dominated crude oil consumption around the world, as the insatiable need for the fossil fuel has long powered the economy. According to EIA estimates, the U.S. gobbles up around 18.9 million barrels of oil each day, or about 7 billion per year, the highest such figures in the world. While the nation may be close to supporting itself in terms of domestic oil production, it still will not change the fact that the U.S. relies more heavily on crude than any other country in the world [for more oil news subscribe to our free newsletter].