Will Oil Prices break the $100 mark?

Oil Prices bounced back from last month’s tumble. During July, the price of WTI oil rose by 7.6%; United States Oil (NYSEMKT:USO), by 7.4%. The recent decline in the Euro/USD may have curbed the rise in oil prices. The fundamentals didn’t change much so there shouldn’t have been such a sharp movement in oil prices; nonetheless, during recent months the volatility of both WIT and Brent oil hiked. Will the recent rally in oil price hold up? Will oil prices reach the $100 mark in the near future? 

The recent rally in oil prices has also affected many oil companies such as Chevron Corporation (NYSE: CVX) and Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE: XOM).

The chart below presents the price of WTI and Exxon’s stock during 2012. As seen, oil and Exxon’s stock have had an upward trend in recent weeks.

Exxon XOM & oil July 2012During July the linear correlation between Chevron and oil (daily percent changes) was 0.63, and between Exxon and oil it was 0.56. These are mid-strong correlations. The rally in oil prices may have contributed to the recovery of these energy prices. Since these energy companies are strongly correlated with the S&P500 index (during June-July the linear correlations were 0.75 and 0.76, respectively). Alliteratively, the stagnations of the S&P500 may have curbed these energy companies’ rise.

In the chart below is development in standard deviations of WTI and Brent oil (daily percent changes) during recent months.  It shows the rise in oil prices’ volatility during June and July compared with previous months’. 

standard deviation of the of daily percent change of WTI & Brent during 2012)



During recent weeks many financial reports were published; they referred to the manufacturing conditions of the major economies: China’s manufacturing PMI index edged up to 49.5; Philly fed manufacturing index also rose but remained negative; Euro Zone and German  manufacturing PMI declined. The reports fromChina and U.S point out that the manufacturing conditions continue to contract but at a slower pace. This might suggest a change in trend.

Driving season: this entails a seasonal effect in which the demand for gasoline tends to rise. On the other hand, the EIA projects the demand for gasoline will reach this summer an 11 year low. These data point out to a mixed signal as to the near future progress of the demand for oil.


From the Supply side the U.S oil production declined by 0.43% (week over week) but was 11.5% above the production level in 2011. Imports and refinery inputs also declined. This mean the U.S supply doesn’t progress.


In OPEC, the oil production slightly declined during last month: its oil production fell to 31,363 thousand bbl/d compared with 31,469 thousand bbl/d a month back. Libya, Nigeria, Iraqs’ oil production slightly rose, while Iran’s production declined below the 3,000 thousand mark. It doesn’t seem there are causes for concerns over Iran’s oil production, but if the tensions between Iran and the U.S will intensify, it could lead to an escalation in the Middle East which, in turn, may lead to a drop in oil production.


U.S. Petroleum and oil stockpiles increased by 1.4 million barrels; it reached 1,798.4 million barrels. The current oil stockpiles are 1.8 million barrels below the levels were during the parallel week a year back.

OECD inventories rose by 15.4 million barrels during May; they reached 2,672 million bbl. The oil stockpiles are still below the 5-year average.

The bottom line is that oil storage is slightly below last year’s but not by much.

The Euro/USD and Oil Prices

During last week the EURO/USD declined by 0.74% and during the month by 4%.  There are positive correlations between the Euro/USD and oil prices:  during June-July, the linear correlation between EURO/USD and oil price reached 0.84. Therefore, if the USD will continue to appreciate against the Euro this may adversely affect oil prices.

There are several factors that could lead oil prices rising to the high 90s especially if the oil market will tighten due to supply constraints. But I speculate this won’t be the case. Don’t get me wrong, if the tensions between Iran and Israel and between Iran and the U.S will take a turn for the worst it could pressure up oil prices to the $100 mark very promptly.  But unless something will actually occur, my guess is that the decline in demand and the strong USD will prevail so that the oil market will loosen and oil prices will come down to the low 80s.

This analysis on oil prices was first published on Trading NRG

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