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What Does the Oil’s Futures Spread Suggest?

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Nov. 20 2020, Updated 11:39 a.m. ET

Futures spread

On May 6, the US crude oil June 2019 futures closed ~$2.5 above the June 2020 futures. On April 29, the futures spread was at a premium of $3. On April 29–May 6, US crude oil June futures fell 2%.

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Fall in bullish sentiments

The market sentiment towards the oil demand and supply situation is reflected in the futures spread. In the last five trading sessions, the spread’s premium contracted. US crude oil prices fell by two percentage points. Inventories at their five-year average and concerns about weekly US crude oil production at a new record high dragged the spread and oil prices. If the spread’s premium contracts into the positive territory, it would signal an additional fall in the bullish sentiments for oil.

Energy stocks

On April 29–May 6, oil-weighted stocks Whiting Petroleum (WLL), Denbury Resources (DNR), and Oasis Petroleum (OAS) fell 15.6%, 9.3%, and 9.3%, respectively, and were among the underperformers.

Forward curve

As of May 6, the US crude oil futures contracts until August are priced in ascending order. The price pattern is a negative sign for ETFs that follow US crude oil futures like the ProShares Ultra Bloomberg Crude Oil ETF (UCO) and the United States 12 Month Oil ETF (USL).

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