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?


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.

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Crude Oil Speculators Are All-time Bullish – Will This Sink Oil Prices?

Large crude oil speculators have amassed a record amount of long crude oil positions. This may mean that there are few buyers left, which may be troublesome for oil prices. Furthermore, oil prices are at technical crossroads.

The latest Commitment of Traders (COT) report shows that large speculators have never been more bullish on crude oil and are holding an all-time high exposure to the ‘black gold’ (hopefully it won’t disappointment them like actual gold).

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) COT reports holdings data for various energy contracts and most of them show large speculators are record long.

What does that mean for oil and gas prices?

There are two key components to the short-term oil outlook. Both of them are illustrated in the chart below, which plots WTI crude oil prices against the COT large speculator data.

When large speculators were ‘all in’ in 2011 and 2012 oil prices corrected. Not immediately but inevitably.
The red trend line magnifies the potential impact of the current sentiment extreme. Oil prices are at technical crossroads as trade hovers around this support/resistance level.
ETFs that are affected by this sentiment/technical analysis combo include:
United States Oil Fund (NYSEArca: USO)
PowerShares DB Oil Fund (NYSEArca: DBO)
Ultra DJ-UBS Crude Oil ProShares (NYSEArca: UCO) – 2x leveraged long ETF
UltraShort DJ-UBS Crude Oil ProShares (NYSEArca: SCO) – 2x leveraged short ETF
The trend line suggests that bullish and bearish forces are fighting a battle over short-term supremacy right around the 103 level.
As long as trade stays above trend line support, higher prices deserve the benefit of the doubt, but sentiment suggests that the we should see a notable correction eventually.
There’s one support level that absolutely must hold and a price target that – if reached – should be very damaging to the stock market.
A more detailed analysis of oil titled ‘Will $100+ Oil Be a Problem For Stocks & The Economy” offers an insightful longer-term outlook for oil along and reveals key support and resistance levels.