Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Oil Gases Up; Bear Bites Dollar

The 'Helicopter Economics Investing Guide' is meant to help educate people on how to make profitable investing choices in the current economic environment. In addition to the term helicopter economics, we have also coined the term, helicopternomics, to describe the current monetary and fiscal policies of the U.S. government and to update the old-fashioned term wheelbarrow economics.

Week after week after week this spring the media reported a glut in U.S. oil supply. This blog and the New York Investing meetup had to debunk this view of the state of the energy markets more than once. The supply report today once again confirms that the only glut that existed was in the imagination of reporters working for the big media outlets. Storage was way below expectations across the board for oil, gasoline and distillates. This has yet to happen in natural gas, but the market is in super contango just as the oil was in January and early February of this year. Indirectly bullish for oil and natural gas going forward was Russia's announcement today that it is reducing its U.S. Treasury holdings.

Expectations for the EIA's storage report was for a drop of 500,000 barrels of oil and an increase of 750,000 barrels of gasoline and 1.5 million barrels of distillates. Instead, oil in storage fell by 4.4 million barrels, gasoline fell by 1.6 million barrels and distillates fell by 300,000 barrels. This is the third oil report in the last four weeks that indicated a large drop in storage. The oil markets barely moved on this incredibly bullish report, although light sweet crude has been trading today around 71, above the key resistance point of 70.80.

Unlike oil, which has been rallying since mid-February, natural gas has been in the doldrums and is the worst performing commodity this year. This may be changing soon. Natural gas futures are in super contango - the distance future contract are priced well above the near term contract. The July contract is currently priced around $3.80, but the December contract is priced above $6 or more than 60% higher. Oil had the same behavior just before it bottomed and then went up for four straight months. Pay attention to this.

Although it is not getting much play so far, the most important news to come out this morning is that Russia plans to reduce its U.S. Treasury holdings. Along with China, Japan, and the Gulf Oil States, Russia is one the 4 biggest foreign holders of U.S debt. Russia says that it is not selling its U.S. bonds, but will just not replace them when they mature (you should read this as: Russia refuses to buy any more worthless U.S. debt and help us fund our deficit, so we are going to have to print even more money than we were planning). While this may sound like a minor change, it could devastating for the U.S. Dollar. Once one of the major debt holders starts bailing, there could be a stampede for the exits. Did the dollar nosedive on the news? Of course not, it actually went up afterwards. We will have to see just how long central bank intervention can forestall the market's gravitational effects.

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NEXT: Disaster Stalks the Dollar

Daryl Montgomery
Organizer,New York Investing meetup

This posting is editorial opinion. Like all other postings for this blog, there is no intention to endorse the purchase or sale of any security.

1 comment:

Giorgio said...

I agreewith you: during the last two months the world's stock market grew more than forecast.

Investors lkely think that global stock market has reached the bottom.

Conratulation for your interesting blog.