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Upstream Sector Rose Last Week


Jan. 14 2019, Updated 1:15 p.m. ET

Upstream space has underperformed

On January 4–11, the SPDR S&P Oil & Gas Exploration & Production ETF (XOP) rose 6.2%—the second-largest gainer among major energy ETFs. A rise of 7.6% in US crude oil prices and a rise of 1.8% in natural gas last week could have helped upstream stocks rise. Last week, the S&P 500 Index (SPY) rose 2.5%, which might have caused another gain in upstream stocks.

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Other major energy ETFs

  • The VanEck Vectors Oil Services ETF (OIH) rose 7.8%.
  • The Energy Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLE) rose 3.6%.
  • The Alerian MLP ETF (AMLP) rose 1.9%.

WTI spreads

Last week, the price difference between WTI at Cushing versus Midland contracted by ~$0.65 per barrel. On January 10, the spread was at the lowest level since November 13. The fall in the spread might indicate a slowdown in the Permian Basin oil production since the takeaway capacity is constant.

The WTI-WCS (Western Canada Select) spread contracted by more than $2 per barrel. Alberta’s production cut plan could be behind the contraction in the WTI-WCS spread. Since the plan’s announcement on December 2, the spread has contracted 67.7%. The recovery in the utilization of the Midwest Refinery Operable Capacity from last month might have contracted the gap between these two grades of oil.

Last week, the LLS (Louisiana Light Sweet) crude oil versus WTI at Cushing, or the LLS-WTC spread, expanded by almost $1 near the $6.8 level. Next, we’ll discuss the top outperformers on our list of upstream players.


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