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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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Analysis

Stocks Go Nowhere Ahead of the Fed

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Global stock markets had a very quiet Tuesday, as traders took a step back before tomorrow much-awaited Fed rate decision. While most of the major indices finished the day virtually unchanged, risk assets gained ground in general, as investors sentiment improved following the slightly nervous Monday session.

DAX 30 Index Futures, 4-Hour Chart Analysis

European and Asian stocks were steadily holding on to last week’s gains, with even the Chinese market settling down with only slight losses, despite the country’s exit from the scheduled trade talks with the US.

On Wall Street, the Nasdaq and the Russell 2000 outperformed the Dow and the S&P 500, signaling a risk-on shift under-the-hood, even as the major indices traded in very narrow ranges in the low-volume low-volatility environment.

EUR/USD, 4-Hour Chart Analysis

Currencies had a much more active season, even as the major pairs didn’t experience real trending moves, before the central bank meeting. The EUR/USD pair, which has been in the center of attention for days finished with small gains after some sudden spikes in both directions, as traders tried to bet on tomorrow’s renewed guidance by the Fed.

In economic news, the US CB Consumer Confidence Index came in above expected at 138.2, a 17-year high, just shy of the all-time high set in 2000, right at the time of the peak of the Dot-Com bubble. On the other hand, the Case-Shiller Housing Price Index missed the already modest consensus estimate, with an only 5.9% yearly price increase, once again confirming the slowdown in the segment in the rising yield environment.

XHB (Homebuilder ETF), 4-Hour Chart Analysis

Shares in the sector are down by 20% on average compared to the January bull market high, and as Treasury yields in the US are still hitting multi-year or even decade-long highs across the yield curve, further pain could be ahead for bulls in the coming months.

That said, a dovish surprise tomorrow could set up a pullback in yields and a possible bounce in the sector, even as the general tightening trend will almost certainly persist for a while.

Rate Hike Near Certainty with All Eyes on the Fed’s Guidance

The odds of the third hike this year by the Fed are almost 100% for tomorrow, but even major changes, and sizeable surprises are possible, with regards to the economic guidance and the Central Bank’s preferred monetary as well.

2-Year US Treasury Yield, 4-Hour Chart Analysis

The US-China trade war could serve as a dovish excuse, despite its limited effects so far, while the US economy provided plenty of ammunition to hawks, such as strong growth, an uptick in some of the key inflation measures, and a tight labor market.

While the 2-Year Treasury yield failed to close at a new cycle high, the short-end of the curve is at a decade-long high, so a bigger surprise could lead to a very volatile afternoon session tomorrow.

Copper Futures, 4-Hour Chart Analysis

Commodities also had a mostly quiet and mixed session with WTI Crude oil slightly retreating off its 10-week high near $73 per barrel and gold holding on near the $1205 level, but copper experiencing more volatility and closing with muted losses after Chinese markets reopened.

Featured image from 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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Analysis

Ripple: One Thing That Doesn’t Make Sense

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If you are bored or just tired of reading about Washington politics, just come over to the crypto world.  But be warned, the headlines can be just as singularly focused and confusing as anything inside the beltway.  Like Ripple for example, it has had everybody talking for the last week. The coming week is likely to be no different. All eyes will be on XRP.

Ripple, of course, is the crypto force that offers its payment networks as settlement infrastructure technology to a growing number of major financial institutions such as UBS, Santander and UniCredit.

Using Ripple, banks can bypass the antiquated SWIFT system. This cuts transfer of international payments to a few seconds from something like three days.  That could save banks billions in fees.

Ripple’s XRP token has had it share of critics, some of which is reflected in XRP being one of the worst performing cryptos this year falling from $3.65 in March to $0.26 on September 13th.

Sudden About Face

Since then, everything has been uphill.  It started a few days ago when CNBC hosted Ripple’s Sagar Sarbhai.  The interview touted high speed xRapid as ready for commercial launch.  Sagar also presented a laundry list of 120 banks that were on board with its xCurrent software.

That interview lit a spark that resulted in a double in the price of XRP and grabbed the attention of just about everyone in the crypto community. Strong technical buy signals were flashing.  In addition announcing that two new banking clients (NCB of Saudi Arabia and PNC) had joined RippleNet, all other fingers were pointing to Sagar’s xRapid announcement.

Following all this comes the headline in Business Cloud website: RIPPLE CRYPTOCURRENCY TO HIT KEY $1 THRESHOLD, PREDICTS CEO Nigel Green, founder of deVere Group, the world’s largest independent financial advisory organization. If that weren’t bold enough, Green’s $1 prediction is for year-end.

Upcoming SWELL Conference Prompts Even More Speculation

There seems to be some real substance behind Sarbhai’s CNBC interview. On October 1-2, Ripple is hosting the SWELL event in San Francisco, CA. The event is meant to connect the world’s leading experts in policy, payments and technology for a proactive dialogue in global payments today.

The event will be packed with political literati including former President Clinton. It is easy to conclude that Ripple is geared up for a major news event. Speculation is that xRapid will be announced and given a date for launch.  When you consider that a keynote address from Bill Clinton could cost Ripple well over $100,000 why would they waste his star power on simple chit chat.

Looking Good

It is fair to say that recent news and the prospects for a potential bombshell announcement next put Ripple in as good a position as it has been in some time.  Who would ever sell XRP at this point? The Wall Street Journal reports that Jed McCaleb, one of the co-founders of both Ripple and Stellar, “has recently stepped up sales of billions of XRP tokens he is thought to own”.  Back in 2013 he owned 9 billion XRP tokens.

OK, so every once in awhile, every crypto entrepreneur needs to pay the rent, but this is more than chump change. To keep things in balance, McCaleb has not worked with Ripple for about five years and, under his lockup agreement, he is entitled to sell up to 750 million XRP annually once year five is passed.  That should be enough dough to pay just about anybody’s rent. Lately, however, the desire to get out of XRP has pushed beyond the lockup agreement.

Why Would Anyone Sell XRP?

With all the good news ahead and the long term outlook for Ripple never looking brighter, who wouldn’t want to own XRP?  This is even more curious given the depressed nature of the XRP price.

Everyone who owns an asset has the right to making independent decisions and there may be special things in McCaleb’s plan that factor into his urgency to sell.  However, there is a section in Investment Analysis 101 that says to ask lots of questions when founders and large inside owners are sellers.

One thing is obvious. After a thoroughly frustrating 2018, there are more reasons to own XRP than to be selling.

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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4.4 stars on average, based on 107 rated postsJames Waggoner is a veteran Wall Street analyst and hedge fund manager who has spent the past few years researching the fintech possibilities of cryptocurrencies. He has a special passion for writing about the future of crypto.




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Analysis

Long-Term Cryptocurrency Analysis: Bearish Trend Intact Despite Explosive Rally Attempts

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The negative trend in the cryptocurrency segment continues to be dominant, with almost all of the top coins trading below the structural support levels that were broken during the summer months. Bitcoin is still above the $5850 level, the last base support before last winter’s explosive speculative event, but Ethereum, Ripple, Litecoin, and the other main altcoins all continued relentlessly lower.

Most of the majors formed a bottom in August, even though Ethereum continued to lead the way lower amid the bleak sentiment and capital flight. Several oversold rally attempts already failed in the segment, leaving the long-term declining trends intact, with last week Ripple providing hope for bulls with its explosive move higher.

While some of the coins tried to follow Ripple higher, the development of a healthy leadership failed yet again, add our trend model continues to be overwhelmingly bearish from a long-term perspective. With that in mind, the short-term buy signals should still be treated cautiously by traders. The August lows are not in direct danger right now, and a more durable bottom might already be in, but a broader rally would be needed to confirm a trend change.

BTC/USD, Daily Chart Analysis

While BTC has been holding on relatively well during the summer months, in the past weeks, as the largest coin was hurt by selling related to large wallets. The coin failed to show bullish momentum despite its stability, and a break below the key long-term support zone near $5850 is still possible here.

Primary support is at $6275, and in the case of a breakdown below $5850, the next major support zone is found near $5000, while resistance is ahead at $7000, between $7200 and $7300, and in the $7650-$7800.

ETH/USD, Daily Chart Analysis

After spiking below $180 and forming a panic-bottom, Ethereum rallied up to $260, but due to the extent of the preceding decline, it didn’t reach the declining trendlines which dominated the market for several months. The coin has been leading the selloff in the segment, and now a re-test of the lows is once again likely, even if a more durable bottom is already in.

Short-term support is found at $200 and $180, while below the recent low, further zones are found near $160 and $130, with resistance zones ahead between $275 and$280, near $300, and in the $330-$335 zone.

(more…)

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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