For the last few months, I have leapt off my biweekly global strategy webinars to check the weekly crude inventories announced minutes before. This week?s figures absolutely blew me away.
The American Petroleum Institute reported that crude stocks rose a staggering 14.3 million barrels over the past week. This is the biggest weekly build that I can remember after covering the industry for 45 years.
This comes on the heels of a breathtaking build of 6.1 million barrels the previous week.
Will someone please text me when the numbers come out during my next webinar? I hate being in the dark, even when it is just for 20 minutes.
Needless to say, crude prices (USO) fell like a stone, giving up 5.5% in hours. Prices are still plunging as I write this. It confirms my suspicion, voiced assiduously in the earlier webinar, that Texas tea has another run to the downside in store.
The 500,000 barrels a day of new production coming on line over the next four months make this a virtual certainty.
The implications for your investment portfolio are legion.
It means that a new leg down in the oil collapse is now unfolding. We may be in the process of taking another shot at the $43 low in January. Best case, this sets up the double bottom where you should buy the entire energy and commodity sectors. Worse case, we break to a new low in the $30?s.
Industry experts are keeping a laser like focus on the storage facilities at Cushing, Oklahoma. They are rapidly filling up, and will be full at 85 million barrels by June. Today?s numbers bring that day dramatically forward.
Once topped up, the industry could be facing a price Armageddon, and newly produced crude will have nowhere to go.
That will bring widespread capping of producing wells, which are never able to recover production when restored. This will be a terrible outcome for the producing companies and oil lease investors.
Consumers aren?t the only ones who are celebrating.
Oil traders are enjoying their best year since 2009, cashing in on the sky high volatility. Front month volatility is gyrating around the 55% levels. This compares to only 15.45% for the S&P 500.
Traders, eat your hearts out.
Big players like Glencore, Gunvor and Mercuria are cashing in with lower prices vastly offset by much greater turnover. Specialized energy hedge funds are also doing well.
The contango, whereby futures contracts for far month delivery are trading at huge premiums to front month ones, is also generating enormous trading opportunities.
The last time I checked, oil one-year out was trading at a 25% premium. This means you can buy a few hundred thousand barrels, charter a rusted out old tanker, and store it for future sale.
Ultra low interest rates to finance the position provide an additional kicker. Hedge funds with the right credit lines are pouring into the field.
OK, so you?re not set up to borrow billions, charter ships, and swing around huge amounts of crude. Nor am I, for that matter. However, the next best thing is also setting up.
When oil completes its next swan dive, there will be great opportunities in the options market.
One year dated calls on oil majors like Exxon (XOM), Conoco Phillips (COP) and Occidental Petroleum (OXY) and the oil ETF (USO) should rise tenfold in the next recovery if you are able to buy anywhere close to the bottom.
I?ll send out a Trade Alert when I see it.