Commodity Corner

Views on commodities and energy

Correlation Between Oil and Equities Markets

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Oil prices have been trading in an unusually strong positive correlation with equities markets over the past few months on hopes that signs of an economic recovery could mean a boost for energy demand.

But with oil and product inventories swelling and little sign of demand improving in the United States and other big developed economies, analysts warn that the linkage may be hard to maintain, especially if U.S. motorists cut back on vacations this summer.

NYMEX First to Second Month Crude Spread

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1st-to-2nd-spread

The spread between the front month and second month oil futures continues to narrow.

The deep spread seen in earlier this year, caused primarily by slumping fuel demand due to the economic crisis, was heightened by the monthly of passive investment funds, especially the giant United States Oil Fund. On Feb. 6, when the fund last rolled its positions from the first to second month futures conracts, it held movre than 20 percent of the front month.

Open Interest in U.S. Crude Oil Futures

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Open interest and trading volumes in commodity futures markets have shown some resilience at the start of 2009 despite the dramatic price slides triggered by the economic downturn.

In the fourth quarter of 2008, open interest in U.S. crude oil futures fell to levels not seen since mid-2006 as the global economic crisis hit fuel demand and sent prices tumbling, before rebounding.

Rising crude levels test Cushing storage capacity

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  Falling U.S. fuel demand due to the recession is building inventories and testing capacity limits at the key Cushing, Oklahoma crude storage hub. Crude Storage Levels at Cushing OK