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Will Crude Oil Reach $68 a Barrel in 2018?

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Crude oil prices are likely to climb close to $68 per barrel mark in 2018. We believe that oil supply will be hit due to a few geopolitical issues if they play out as we expect. Additionally, though high crude prices will be a strong incentive for the shale oil drillers to pump more, their increase is unlikely to tilt the deficit into oversupply.

Key observations

  1. The OPEC production cut is tilting the crude oil markets to a balance
  2. Rise in the shale oil production is unlikely to equal the increase in demand in 2018
  3. The geopolitical issues can tilt the markets into a deficit
  4. If crude oil breaks out of $55 per barrel, a move to $68 is likely

What are the current market conditions?

OPEC oil production cuts

The November 2016 production cut by OPEC and its allies is helping the market stabilize. The US crude stockpiles have been decreasing over the past few months, which indicates that the OPEC cuts are having their desired effect, albeit slowly.

The stockpiles in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) nations is down to just under 3 billion barrels, which is roughly 171 million barrels above the 5-year average. The OPEC wants to bring the inventory levels below the 5-year average.

Reports suggest that the OPEC and its allies will extend the deal, which is set to expire in March 2018 by another 9-months. However, the oil cartel is unlikely to deepen the cuts. In the September quarter, it had produced 32.9 million barrels per day (bpd), as against 33.4 million bpd production in November 2016, prior to the production cut agreement.

In the fourth quarter of this year, the OPEC production is expected to further decline to 32.7 million bpd.

US shale oil production

The main threat to any recovery in crude oil prices is the ever-increasing production of the US shale oil drillers. US crude oil production, which averaged about 9.2 million bpd in the first quarter of this year has increased to 9.56 million bpd by the third-quarter.

The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) expects the average US crude oil production to increase to 9.9 million bpd in 2018, compared to 9.2 million bpd in 2017. That is an addition of 700,000 bpd of supply.

On the other hand, Investment bank Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co (TPH) expects US crude oil production to reach 10.2 million barrels in 2018.

So, on an average, crude oil production by the shale oil drillers is expected to increase by 700,000 bpd to 1 million bpd.

Demand increase in 2018

The global economy is growing at a decent pace, which is expected to increase the demand for crude oil. The US EIA expects the global demand to increase by 1.6 million bpd in 2018.

Therefore, with everything else being equal, this will lead to a faster reduction in crude oil inventory and an improvement in sentiment, but not a large increase in price.

So, why do we expect crude oil prices to increase next year?

What are the events that have changed in the recent past that warrant a change in our view?

For the past two years, oil prices have not responded to geopolitical tensions because of the supply glut.

However, next year, when the markets are in a balance, any geopolitical event that can have an effect on the supply side will tilt the market to a deficit, resulting in a rally in oil prices. What are these events?

The Iran sanctions

President Donald Trump has been a critic of the deal between the US and Iran, which led to lifting of sanctions on the Islamic nation. The deal is called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). As a result of this deal, Iran was able to resume its exports, which have skyrocketed from about 1 million bpd in 2013 to about 2.3 million bpd in September 2017.

President Trump decertified the deal on October 13 but has still not quit the deal. He wants the deal to be renegotiated, however, the remaining countries who were party to the deal and Iran are unwilling to do so.

This creates a tension between the US and Iran. Chances are that President Trump will withdraw from the deal sometime next year to fulfill his pre-election promise of ripping the deal apart.

What are the repercussions if the US quits the deal?

Presently, the EU nations are not in favor of scrapping the deal with Iran. If the US unilaterally withdraws from the deal, Iran’s exports are unlikely to have an immediate effect, until the EU decides to support it. After all, EU has been the major consumer of Iranian oil since sanctions were lifted.

However, Iran’s fields are aging. They need fresh investments to keep the oil flowing at the current rate. If the US quits the deal, it is unlikely that major oil companies, that have operations in the US will enter Iran. This can limit the capital flows to the Islamic nation’s oil sector.

As an immediate effect, the US sanctions will “put at risk a few hundred thousand barrels of Iranian exports,” Goldman Sachs wrote in a research note. However, these are only estimates and the real impact will be known only after the US withdraws from the deal. Due to the uncertainty, the markets are likely to boost prices higher, until it gets a clear picture of the effects.

Geopolitical tensions in the gulf can lead to a severe shortage of oil

The northern Iraq region – Kurdistan – is a semi-autonomous region, which recently declared Independence from Iraq. This has led to a conflict between the two. While the Iraqi forces have declared their victory in the important oil-rich region of Kirkuk, the victory is not final because the Kurdish army did not put up a fight initially to defend the oil-rich region.

However, both the Kurdish peshmerga and the Iraqi army have been trained by the US. Therefore, if the conflict is not resolved quickly, through a dialogue, it can turn bloody and lead to disruption of about 600,000 bpd of oil supply.

“Oil prices could spike a lot higher on this development because this time is different, after years of war in the region. The battle, finally, is for the oil, and no other reason. In other words, here we go,” John Kilduff, partner at energy-focused investment manager Again Capital, told CNBC.

Unless a permanent solution is reached, we expect these issues to linger on and again crop up in 2018, propping prices higher.

What does the chart forecast?

The WTI crude has been broadly trading in a range of $42 and $55. Oil has taken support close to the $42 levels four times in the past year and a half. Therefore, this is a strong support level and can be used as a stop loss for our positions.

On the upside, the zone between $50 and $55 has been a strong resistance. Oil has struggled to breakout of this zone. However, if any geopolitical event triggers a breakout above $55, a rally to $68 levels is likely, which is the minimum target objective of a breakout from the range.

How can we benefit, if crude rallies according to our expectations?

The best way to benefit from the rise in crude oil is to trade the oil futures, but due to their volatility, it is not advisable to hold it for the long-term.

The oil-based ETFs can offer an opportunity to take a position in oil. Individual energy stocks are also another means of benefitting from a rally in crude oil.

We shall soon identify the best oil-based ETF and stocks that can offer good returns in 2018.

Risk to our analysis

Our analysis is based on the assumption that the existing geopolitical issues are unlikely to be sorted out within the next year. However, a good dialogue can easily put an end to these, thereby invalidating any risk-premium to crude oil.

Also, consistent high prices above $50 can increase the US shale oil production, much higher than the currently anticipated levels. This will prevent the markets from balancing out.

Due to infighting among its members, the OPEC and its allies can opt out of the production cut deal,  which will boost supply and can lead to a crash in crude oil prices.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock. 

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.7 stars on average, based on 9 rated postsRakesh Upadhyay is a Technical Analyst and Portfolio Consultant for The Summit Group. He has more than a decade of experience as a private trader. His philosophy is to use technical analysis for momentum trading and fundamental analysis for long-term positions. Rakesh likes to keep himself fit by lifting weights and considers himself to be a spiritual person.




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Altcoins

Your Guide to Stablecoins 2019

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Stablecoins are cryptocurrencies with a value pegged to a currency or to exchange traded commodities. Many projects today are researching and developing such technology. Issuers distribute stablecoins to customers in exchange for fiat currency such as USD at a 1:1 fixed exchange rate. USD is a desirable medium of exchange and globally accepted unit of account, making it a good choice for a stablecoin. Stablecoins most often take the following shapes.

  • Fiat-collateralized: Reserves in a national currency collateralize the creation and issuance of such tokens. The goal is price stability by pegging a token’s value to a reserved fiat value.
  • Crypto-collateralized: Cryptocurrencies backing cryptocurrencies. That might sound far fetched or futuristic, but it is possible in the present day. Forget the Gold Standard. Now you can hold a cryptocurrency backed by a basket of cryptocurrencies.
  • Seigniorage: These tokens are not-collateralized. Software maintains the price stability.
  • Hybrid: When you blend the three basic approaches above – or some assortment thereof – you get a hybrid stablecoin.

Let’s go deeper.

Fiat-backed

Fully-backed by fiat money at a 1:1 ratio, you might receive $1 of fiat-backed stablecoins in exchange for $1 of fiat money. Custodians (third-parties) typically manage the fiat in such an arrangement. In order to maintain a stable price, fiat-backed tokens may be issued or destroyed as needed. When holders redeem cash with tokens, for instance, the company might wire money to a bank account, then destroy or otherwise remove the tokens from circulation so as to maintain the fiat currency peg.

Tether (USDT)

Tether’s daily volume on January 18 was $189,134,405. Traders use tether as a way to hedge and to convert holdings into the equivalent USD value without having to cash-out. Detractors argue that Tether lacks transparency when it comes to reserves, though the company claims all issued USDT tokens are backed on a one-to-one basis. The CEO of Bitfinex is also the CEO for Tether Limited, which issues Tether.

TrueUSD (TUSD)

TrueUSD claims to be more transparent than Tether, while still enabling TUSD customers to exchange USD through an escrow account over which the TUSD team claims to have no control. The company uses smart contracts to ensure the 1:1 parity between real USD reserves in the escrow accounts and the TUSD tokens issued.

Gemini

Gemini took a different approach than most stablecoins, receiving permission from the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) before creating its USD-pegged stablecoin. Designed to provide traders and institutions with a “regulated” version of tether (USDT), Gemini claims their stablecoin establishes trust through cryptographic proof and regulatory oversight.

Gemini’s ERC20 stablecoin includes an “upgrade feature, an offline approval mechanism for high-risk actions, and a hybrid online-offline approval mechanism for high-risk actions and token issuance that provides the desired level of security and flexibility.”

Gemini links licensed financial institutions and examiners. They form a network of trust that backs the Gemini dollar. This regulated stablecoin is to serve as a medium of exchange and unit of account for centralized and decentralized applications. Gemini has pledged to create a network of trusted and licensed financial institutions and examiners. These implementations combined form the Gemini dollar, a regulated stablecoin that can serve as a viable medium of exchange and unit of account for centralized and decentralized applications.

Gemini’s proof-of-solvency is also a unique selling point requires a trusted third party. It plans to have the audit committee of the board of directors of Gemini engage an independent registered public accounting firm to attest to the underlying US dollar balance.

Paxos Standard

Paxos Standard is built upon the Ethereum blockchain as an ERC-20 token. Rather than issuing new money to maintain price stability, as past coins have attempted, Paxos Standard provides a more stable representation of existing money with accepted and trusted value. The company posits early use cases for the technology as a payment means; hedge against volatility; contracts for more complicated transactions, and more. Longer term use cases include asset mobility and settlement and ecosystem development.
Centre

CENTRE is creating a network scheme to manage the creation, redemption and mechanisms enabling issuing members to mint and burn/redeem asset-backed fiat tokens, ensuring price stability. CENTRE’s fiat-collateralized approach entails a unit of tokenized fiat currency being backed by one unit of reserved fiat. According to CENTRE, Circle will become a “licensed member of the CENTRE network”, but an independent entity will govern and develop CENTRE protocols separate from Circle.
Commodity-Backed

Commodity-backed stablecoins are pegged to a specific value of, say, gold. One token, for instance, might represent one gram of gold. Physical gold is often claimed to be stored in a trusted third party vault. BitShares was one of the first projects to introduce a commodity-backed stablecoin. Backed by real assets and redeemable at the conversion rate of the real asset, commodity-backed stablecoins try to maintain the stable value of gold, while being easily transferred.

Digix Gold Tokens (DGX)

Digix has two tokens. Digix Gold Tokens (DGX) and DigixDAO Tokens (DGD). DGD tokens are used for DigixDAO’s governance model. DGX tokens are used as collateral and a trading pair by other crypto projects like MakerDAO, Kryptono Exchange, Kyber Network, WeTrust, Monolith, and others.

A Digix customer might buy gold through the Digix platform. The vendor then supplies gold and a custodian stores the customer’s gold. Relevant details (vendor, custodian, customer, etc.) are stored on a digital card, and sent to smart contracts so new, gold-backed coins can be minted.

DGX, created by DigixGlobal, is an ERC-20 token backed by physical gold. Fully-audited and stored in a vault in Singapore, the Safe House, each token’s value is fully redeemable and pegged to price of gold. Digix’s Proof-of-Provenance algorithm ensures that each gold bar’s custodianship status is tracked on the Ethereum blockchain. Reserves are audited each quarter.

Cryptocurrency-Backed Stablecoin

Backed by other cryptocurrencies, crypto-collateralized cryptocoins can be less stable than fiat and commodity-backed stablecoins because the underlying asset is less stable. Cryptocurrency-backed stablecoins might sometimes be over-collateralized to account for the volatility. While a US-backed stablecoin might be pegged 1:1, an Ethereum-backed stablecoin might be worth 2:1. (US $2 worth of ethereum for US$1 worth of stablecoin).  Still, cryptocurrency backed stablecoins are more volatile than stablecoins backed by other assets like commodities and fiat money.

Usually backed by a basket of cryptocurrencies instead of a lone currency, some such stablecoins require users to stake and lock cryptocurrency via a smart contract to create a fixed ratio of stablecoins. Considered a more decentralized alternative to fiat and commodity-backed stablecoin, cryptocurrency backed stablecoins offer quick liquidation from one cryptocurrency to another.

MakerDAO (DAI)

Maker, a smart contract platform based on the Ethereum platform, stabilizes the value of Dai, a collateral-backed cryptocurrency, through a dynamic system of Collateralized Debt Positions (CDPs), autonomous feedback mechanisms, and appropriately incentivized external actors.

Collateralized debt position are smart contracts on the Maker system. CDPs keep track of assets deposited by users so that users can generate Dai. The value of an active CDPs collateral is higher than the value of the debt. Ether is used as collateral for new coins, and must be sent to a CDP, which locks the staked ETH so new DAIs are minted. Dai is designed to be sent to others, used as payments for goods and services and held as savings. MakerDAO also issues MKR token.

Seigniorage-Style Stablecoin

Seigniorage-Style stablecoins are uncollateralized and stabilized by algorithms. Algorithms might maintain the value and stability of a coin by controlling the supply of the uncollateralized stablecoin, shrinking and growing it based on certain indicators.

Seignoriage-style coins’ algorithmically governed approach to expanding and contracting a stablecoin’s money supply. New stablecoins are minted to maintain stable prices, when, say, demand increases or decreases.

Conclusion

Technologists claim that stability offered in stablecoins would be a boon to cryptocurrency by minimizing fluctuations of value. A stablecoin theoretically represents a stable means of payment and trade, making it appealing for daily use, and perhaps more palatable for the general public. Yet, stablecoin technology is still nascent, and questions such as how to manage supply and demand in such a way as to create stable value have yet to be fully answered and understood. Of the coins listed here, Digix, Gemini, MakerDAO and Paxos represent under-publicized products on which to keep an eye.

Image: Artem Beli

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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5 stars on average, based on 1 rated postsJustin O'Connell is the founder of financial technology focused CryptographicAsset.com. Justin organized the launch of the largest Bitcoin ATM hardware and software provider in the world at the historical Hotel del Coronado in southern California. His works appear in the U.S.'s third largest weekly, the San Diego Reader, VICE and elsewhere.




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Tron Price Analysis: TRX/USD Constructing a Head and Shoulders Pattern

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  • TRX/USD remains vulnerable to further downside, with eyes on the possible head and shoulders technical structure.
  • TRX/BTC bulls are having much difficulty breaking down huge area of supply.

TRX/USD Price Action

TRX/USD daily chart.

There has been little in terms of committed market direction. It appears that after the huge bull run, which was observed from mid-December until 10th January, the price is trying to find its feet again. The gains of that push higher were a chunky 180%, before quickly becoming unstable and losing some of that ground.

Head and Shoulders Pattern

TRX/USD head and shoulders formation, via daily chart.

A near-term ascending trend line can be observed via the daily chart. This could be forming a head and shoulders formation. The left shoulder and head have already been constructed, with attention on this possible right shoulder. It is currently moving back towards the trend line, acting as a neckline for the technical pattern. A breach could see a fast fall below the $0.020000 mark.

The next major area of support is seen at a demand zone, which tracks from $0.017500 down to $0.016000. TRX/USD last traded here on 20th December, when the bulls ran through this range, which at the time was acting as supply. At a worse case scenario, a failure of this zone holding will shift attention to the December low area, $0.011150.

TRX/BTC Bulls Cannot Break Down Big Supply Zone

TRX/BTC daily chart.

This trading week, the TRX/BTC bulls attempted on a few occasions,to break down heavy area of supply. It can be seen tracking from 0.00000700 up to 0.000007500. The price has not been convincingly breached since June 2018, a strong sign of the bearish trend gripping the market. Briefly on 10th January, an aggressive spike to the upside was observed, pushing above for a very short-time before the sellers piled in.

Weekly Chart

TRX/BTC weekly chart.

Looking via the weekly chart view, TRX/BTC has been pushing higher for the past three consecutive weeks, at the time of writing. Despite this run of gains, the technical picture does still somewhat express some vulnerabilities. The large upper wick produced during the week which commenced 7th January appears to be a bearish pin bar formation.

If this week fails to close in the green, it could suggest that a larger wave of selling pressure may materialize. Typically, the types of candlesticks described above tend to come ahead of downside pressure. In addition, then numerous rejections seen within the earlier detailed supply zone, stacks favorably for the bears.

Disclaimer: The author owns Bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.6 stars on average, based on 110 rated postsKen has over 8 years exposure to the financial markets. During a large part of his career, he worked as an analyst, covering a variety of asset classes; forex, fixed income, commodities, equities and cryptocurrencies. Ken has gone on to become a regular contributor across several large news and analysis outlets.




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Monero Price Analysis: Stronger Malware to Mine Monero; XMR/USD Has Room for Another Potential Squeeze South

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  • Researchers: a stronger malware has been uncovered, which can mine Monero.
  • XMR/USD price action remains stuck in a narrowing range, subject to an imminent breakout.

The XMR/USD price has seen some upside on Saturday, holding gains of around 3% towards the latter stages of the day. Despite the press higher from the bulls, a move which has been observed across the cryptocurrency market, vulnerabilities remain. Price action has been ranging for the past nine sessions. Once again, this isn’t specifically just XMR, as this type of behavior is witnessed across the board. The narrowing in play came after the steep drop that rippled across the market on 10th January.

Price action was initially well-supported to the upside by an ascending trend line, which was in play from 15th December. This at the time was a very promising recovery, as XMR/USD had gained as much as 55%. Unfortunately, however, the bulls were unable to break down supply heading into the $60 region and were eventually dealt a big hammer blow. On 10th January, the market bears forced a heavy breach to the downside, smashing through this support. The price had dropped a big double-digits, some 20%.

Stronger Malware Mining Monero (XMR)

There is a dangerous form of malware that can bypass being detected and mine Monero (XMR) on cloud-based servers. A recent notice was put out by Palo Alto Networks’ Unit 42, an intelligence team that specializes in cyber threats, regarding a Linux mining malware. This was detailed to have been developed by Rocke group, which has the ability uninstall cloud security products. It can do this to the likes of Alibaba Cloud and Tencent Cloud, to then illegally mine Monero on compromised machines.

The two researchers from Palo Alto Networks, Xingyu Jin and Claud Xiao, detailed the findings of their studies. Once the malware is downloaded, it takes administrative control to initially uninstall all cloud security products. Shortly after, it will then then transmit code that will mine the Monero (XMR). Further within their press release, they said, “To the best of our knowledge, this is the first malware family that developed the unique capability to target and remove cloud security products.”

Technical Review – XMR/USD

XMR/USD daily chart.

Given the current range block formation, eyes should be on the key near-term technical areas. Firstly, to the downside, $43, which is the lower part of the range. A breach here will likely see a retest of the December low, $38. To the upside, resistance be observed at around the mid $46 level. Should a breakout be observed here, then a potential retest of the broken trend line will be watched.

Disclaimer: The author owns Bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.6 stars on average, based on 110 rated postsKen has over 8 years exposure to the financial markets. During a large part of his career, he worked as an analyst, covering a variety of asset classes; forex, fixed income, commodities, equities and cryptocurrencies. Ken has gone on to become a regular contributor across several large news and analysis outlets.




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