Coal lifts oil in Asia
Hong Kong coal futures have leapt 9.0% higher this morning, meaning that the China energy crunch has made its way back to the front of investors minds. That has lifted oil prices in Asia as well, with Brent crude surging 0.80% higher, and WTI leaping by 1.0%.
On Friday, oil prices continued to grind higher, with no sign of any inclination to open the pumps by OPEC+ or announcements by the US government on SPR releases. Brent crude finished 0.90% higher at USD 84.90, and WTI finished 1.25% higher at USD 82.50 a barrel. In Asia, Brent crude has risen to USD 85.65, and WTI has risen to USD 83.40 a barrel as coal futures rocket into space.
With no signs of the China energy crunch alleviating soon, and with the rest of northern Asia and Europe competing for scarce energy supplies, particularly gas, the price environment for oil remains constructive. Even a US or China SPR release is only likely to provide temporary relief. A rapidly reopening aviation sector, with a slew of reopening announcements from ASEAN last week, will be another price pressure point.
Brent crude should now target the October 2019 high at USD 86.80 and onto USD 90.00 barrel, with support at USD 84.25 and USD 82.00 a barrel. WTI now has meaningful resistance until the USD 89.00 regions although I expect some sellers to appear above USD 86.00 a barrel initially. Only a fall through USD 82.00 a barrel changes the bullish outlook.
If Brent crude moves to USD 90.00 a barrel, I expect the pressure on OPEC+ to step up quite a few notches from the US White House. The huge weight of speculative long positioning in oil futures means a sudden USD 5-8 a barrel drop could still occur on a headline shock. However, with the underlying fundamentals for oil so strong, any large dip will reverse just as quickly.
Nervous specs cut long gold positions
Although the US dollar finished roughly neutral on Friday, higher yields across the US curve were enough to spook speculative longs in gold. That saw the predicted rush for the exit door, and gold fell rapidly by 1.60% to close at USD 1767.50 an ounce. In early Asia, gold has recouped some losses, rising 0.25% to USD 1771.50 an ounce.
The price action on Friday speaks volumes about the gold market now. US dollar weakness earlier last week soured gold buying and drew in fast-money speculative longs. The equally rapid unwinding of most of those gains on Friday reinforces that much of gold’s rally was built on speculative hot air and that those longs have little to no appetite to wear any pain on those long positions. In the bigger picture, the lack of staying power from gold longs suggests that it will struggle to maintain any upward momentum, even if gold reaches USD 1800.00 an ounce. Up via the stairs, down via the sixth-floor window.
Firmer US yields, should they endure this week, will be a headwind for gold rallies, especially if it leads to US dollar strength. Gold has nearby support at USD 1765.00 followed by USD 1745.00 an ounce with failure reopening a test of USD 1720.00. Gold failed for the third day in a row at the 100 and 200-day moving averages (DMAs), today at USD 1795.40 and USD 1796.60 an ounce, formidable resistance.
In the bigger picture, only a rise through USD 1835.00 an ounce would trigger a multi-month inverse head-and-shoulders technical pattern and swing gold’s outlook back to positive. The risks remain firmly to the downside.
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