2017 Oil Forecast

Although volatile, 2016 was a good year for crude oil. The January 10, 2016 Profit Radar Report printed this outlook for 2016:

Sentiment is bearish (which should be positive for oil), but seasonality has a minor weak spot until early February. The overall setup for oil in 2016 looks positive, with a potential buy signal early February.”

Crude oil bottomed on February 11 at 26.05.

Barron’s rates iSPYETF as “trader with a good track record” and Investor’s Bussines Daily says “When Simon says, the market listens.”

For the second half of 2016 our indicators never really lined up to point in the same direction. There was no clear signal, which helps explains the choppy performance since the June high.

What are key indicators projecting for 2017?

Investor Sentiment

Commercial hedgers (the smart money) are betting on lower oil prices. In fact, hedgers are holding a record amount of short exposure.

The chart below was published in the January 11, 2017 Profit Radar Report. At the time, hedgers were short to the tune of 465,400 futures contracts (this has increased to 509, 138).

Nevertheless, the January 11, 2017 Profit Radar Report stated that: “As long as trade stays above 48 – 50, we will allow for higher prices.” Why?

Seasonality

Oil is one of those commodities with a very distinct seasonal pattern. Seasonality turns strongly bullish in February.

Tiebreaker: Technical Analysis

Investor sentiment suggests risk is rising while seasonality should buoy prices.

How do we reconcile this conflict between sentiment and seasonality?

Such conflicts often cause stalemates or relative trading ranges.

Based on Elliott Wave Theory, oil appears to be in a wave 4 rally (which retraces part of the 2014 – 2016 drop from 107 to 26.

Ideally wave 4 will extend higher (towards 60) before falling towards and below 26 in wave 5.

Here are the most liquid oil ETPs (Exchange Traded Products):

United States Oil Fund (USO)
iPath S&P GSCI Crude Oil ETN (OIL)

ProShares UltraShort Bloomberg Crude Oil ETF (SCO)
VelocityShares 3x Inverse Crude Oil ETN (DWTI)

Continued updates and trade recommendations will be available via the Profit Radar Report.

Simon Maierhofer is the founder of iSPYETF and the publisher of the Profit Radar Report. Barron’s rated iSPYETF as a “trader with a good track record” (click here for Barron’s profile of the Profit Radar Report). The Profit Radar Report presents complex market analysis (S&P 500, Dow Jones, gold, silver, euro and bonds) in an easy format. Technical analysis, sentiment indicators, seasonal patterns and common sense are all wrapped up into two or more easy-to-read weekly updates. All Profit Radar Report recommendations resulted in a 59.51% net gain in 2013, 17.59% in 2014, and 24.52% in 2015.

Follow Simon on Twitter @ iSPYETF or sign up for the FREE iSPYETF Newsletter to get actionable ETF trade ideas delivered for free.

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Crude Oil Analysis Update

It’s been a while since the last free crude oil analysis (March 23: Next? A Crude Awakening for Oil Bears?).

The March 23 article noted that: “Commercial traders are starting to prepare themselves for further gains. Oil seasonality also suggests higher prices. Probably more important is a trend line that’s been important for oil prices for nearly two decades (this proprietary trend line and detailed oil seasonality chart reserved for subscribers of the Profit Radar Report). A move above this trend line is likely to trigger a rally.”

This important trend line is now in the rear view mirror, and I’m able to disclose it without conflict to my paying subscribers.

The green bold line in the crude oil futures chart below represents this trend line. It originates all the way back in 1998.

Since overcoming the bold green trend line, oil prices rallied as much as 33%.

Below is a summary of observations made in the Profit Radar Report since March:

March 29: “For aggressive traders, playing the long side (buy on dips) should ultimately prove profitable.”

April 8: “A close above 54.30 should bring more follow through gains.”

 

April 15: “Crude oil broke above 54 today. The breakout has legs as long as it stays above 54.”

May 6: “Oil prices are now gnawing on the resistance zone around 60. Yesterday’s red candle high may cause a pause. Next support is around 58.50, which could be an opportunity to buy.

Oil is trading around 58.50 right now. Based on seasonality, price may test support at 56 or 54.30 between now and mid-June (proprietary oil seasonality chart available to Profit Radar Report subscribers).

Overall, I anticipate oil prices to move higher as long as support at 54.30 holds.

Based on seasonality, buying oil ETFs like the United States Oil Fund (NYSEArca: USO) or iPath Crude Oil ETN (NYSEArca: OIL) before mid-June and/or around 54 – 56 (based on crude oil prices) is a trade worth watching.

Simon Maierhofer is the publisher of the Profit Radar Report. The Profit Radar Report presents complex market analysis (S&P 500, Dow Jones, gold, silver, euro and bonds) in an easy format. Technical analysis, sentiment indicators, seasonal patterns and common sense are all wrapped up into two or more easy-to-read weekly updates. All Profit Radar Report recommendations resulted in a 59.51% net gain in 2013 and 17.59% in 2014.

Follow Simon on Twitter @ iSPYETF or sign up for the FREE iSPYETF Newsletter to get actionable ETF trade ideas delivered for free.

 

Next? A Crude Awakening for Oil Bears?

After losing 55% in a matter of six months, oil has been flat for the last two months. Is it gathering steam for the next big move?

A volatile bottoming process is nothing new for oil.

The 1986 and 2008/2009 bottoming processes were volatile as well (2008/2009 highlighted by blue circle). There were many weeks of wild up and down swings.

The initial low wasn’t violated in a meaningful way, but there was also no meaningful progress for about three months.

Based on the 1986 and 2008/2009 script, the February 4 Profit Radar Report anticipated wild, range bound swings.

The VIX for crude oil (OVX – light blue graph) is about at the same level as it was near the 2008/2009 low. If the 2008/2009 Oil VIX high acts as resistance, down side for oil is limited.

The dark blue graph shows the net futures position (Commitment of Traders Report) of commercial traders.

 

Although not extreme by historical standards, it appears that commercial traders are starting to prepare themselves for further gains.

Oil seasonality also suggests higher prices.

The red and green lines are long-term Fibonacci support/resistance, but probably more important is a trend line that’s been important for oil prices for nearly two decades (this proprietary trend line and detailed oil seasonality chart reserved for subscribers of the Profit Radar Report).

A move above this trend line is likely to trigger a rally.

Before investing in Oil ETFs like the United States Oil Fund (NYSEArca: USO) or iPath Crude Oil ETN (NYSEArca: OIL), investors should know that futures based ETFs (like USO and OIL) are subject to contango, and may lag the underlying asset (in this case oil).

Although this wasn’t the case in February 2015 – when oil prices and USO/OIL gained as much as 24.4% before reversing lower – it’s always good to calibrate expectations.

Simon Maierhofer is the publisher of the Profit Radar Report. The Profit Radar Report presents complex market analysis (S&P 500, Dow Jones, gold, silver, euro and bonds) in an easy format. Technical analysis, sentiment indicators, seasonal patterns and common sense are all wrapped up into two or more easy-to-read weekly updates. All Profit Radar Report recommendations resulted in a 59.51% net gain in 2013 and 17.59% in 2014.

Follow Simon on Twitter @ iSPYETF or sign up for the FREE iSPYETF Newsletter to get actionable ETF trade ideas delivered for free.

Is the Smart Money Buying Oil?

If anyone knows fundamental supply/demand forces, seasonal patterns and the potential for curveballs, it’s commercial traders.

Commercial oil traders work with oil in their day-to-day business. It’s the only commodity they deal with. Commercial traders make up about 60 – 75% of the trading volume in futures markets. That’s why they are considered the smart money.

So, is the smart money buying oil?

The chart below plots the price of crude oil against the net futures positions of commercial traders (as reported by the Commitment of Traders report).

Commercial oil traders are almost always net short as futures are used as hedge against falling prices.

Here are the key takeaways:

  1. The smart money reduced short exposure steadily as oil prices tumbled. In itself, that’s good news.
  2. However, net short positions fell to an all-time low and are still well below the levels seen at prior oil price trough. That’s not bullish.
  3. Although oil prices managed to inch higher last week, commercial traders added to their hedges (red circle). That’s bearish.

Technical analysis shows an improving picture for the Energy Select Sector SPDR ETF (NYSEArca: XLE). Click here for detailed XLE analysis.

But oil ETFs like the United States Oil ETF (NYSEArca: USO) and iPath S&P GSCI Crude Oil ETN (NYSEArca: OIL) have yet to catch their footing.

Commercial oil traders are not yet convinced oil has found a lasting bottom. Unless we know something they don’t, it appears too early to buy.

Simon Maierhofer is the publisher of the Profit Radar Report. The Profit Radar Report presents complex market analysis (S&P 500, Dow Jones, gold, silver, euro and bonds) in an easy format. Technical analysis, sentiment indicators, seasonal patterns and common sense are all wrapped up into two or more easy-to-read weekly updates. All Profit Radar Report recommendations resulted in a 59.51% net gain in 2013.

Follow Simon on Twitter @ iSPYETF or sign up for the FREE iSPYETF Newsletter to get actionable ETF trade ideas delivered for free.