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What Caused the U-Turn in Oil Prices?

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Nov. 20 2020, Updated 5:28 p.m. ET

US crude oil

On February 15, 2018, US crude oil’s April 2018 futures rose 1.1% and settled at $61.17 per barrel. On the same day, ETFs that follow US crude oil futures’ price performance rose:

  • the United States Oil ETF (USO) at 1.2%
  • the ProShares Ultra Bloomberg Crude Oil ETF (UCO) at 2.1%
  • the PowerShares DB Oil ETF (DBO) at 0.2%
  • the Credit Suisse X-Links WTI Crude Oil Index ETN (OIIL) at -0.5%

On the same day, the US dollar fell 0.6%. The fall in the US dollar could boost commodities that are denominated in the currency. For example, the PowerShares DB Commodity Tracking ETF (DBC), which tracks the commodity space, rose 0.2% on the same day. The rise could have helped US crude oil prices close in the green in the trailing week. During this period, US crude oil futures rose 0.4%. Since the EIA released oil inventory and production data on February 14, 2018, US crude oil prices have closed higher.

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Natural gas

On February 15, 2018, natural gas March 2018 futures fell 0.3% and settled at $2.58 per MMBtu (million British thermal units). The EIA (U.S. Energy Information Administration) data showed a fall of 194 Bcf (billion cubic feet) in natural gas inventories for the week ending February 9, 2018. The fall was 78 Bcf more than the market’s expectation. The fall caused natural gas inventories to fall 2.8 percentage points below the five-year average levels. However, moderating winter temperatures could have increased the bearish concerns for natural gas prices. In the trailing week, natural gas March futures declined 4.3%.

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