Crude Oil Was the Worst Performer in 1Q17

Crude oil prices and US stock exchanges  

WTI (West Texas Intermediate) crude oil (RYE) (IYE) (SCO) futures for May delivery are near a one-month high as of April 3, 2017. So far, crude oil prices and broader markets such as the S&P 500 (SPY) (SPX-INDEX) are diverging in 2017. SPY has risen 5.3 YTD (year-to-date). However, crude oil prices have fallen ~10% YTD. Meanwhile, US crude oil prices have risen ~21.3% in the last 12 months. SPY rose ~14% during the same period. So, bullish momentum in the US stock market could partially support oil prices. For more on crude oil prices, read Part 1 of this series.

Crude Oil Was the Worst Performer in 1Q17

Crude oil price performance in 1Q17

US WTI crude oil prices fell 6.3% in March 2017 and 5.8% in 1Q17. Likewise, Brent crude oil prices fell 5% in March 2017 and 7% in 1Q17. Brent crude oil was the worst performer across asset classes in 1Q17. In the last quarter, US and Brent crude oil prices had the worst quarterly loss since late 2015.

Crude oil’s highs in the last 15 months  

US WTI crude oil prices settled at $54.45 per barrel on February 23, 2017—the highest level since June 2015. As of March 31, 2017, crude oil prices were 7.1% below their high.

Key bullish drivers for crude oil in 2017 

Crude oil’s lows in the last 15 months 

US crude oil settled at $26.21 per barrel on February 11, 2016. Crude oil prices hit a 13-year low due to the following factors:

As of March 31, 2017, crude oil prices have risen 93.1% from their 2016 lows. Higher crude oil (FXN) (FENY) (USL) prices have a positive impact on oil producers’ earnings such as Occidental Petroleum (OXY), Synergy Resources (SYRG), and Goodrich Petroleum (GDP).

Key bearish drivers for crude oil in 2017  

Crude oil price forecasts  

Crude oil prices could crash due to the factors mentioned above. However, crude oil prices are trading above their 200-day moving averages. BTU Analytics thinks that if OPEC doesn’t extend major oil producers’ production cut deal, we could see oil prices breaking below $40 per barrel in the short term. For more on crude oil price forecasts, read the last part of the series.

In the next part of the series, we’ll look at how Cushing crude oil inventories impact crude oil prices.