Oil prices ease on Ukraine hopes
Oil markets in Asia have staged an unconvincing pullback today in hopes that Ukraine-Russia negotiations are moving to a constructive stage, despite the weekend widening of the Russian bombing. Additionally, the Shenzhen lockdown may have tempered China’s growth expectations and thus, its energy consumption. All of that is a most ambitious reason to price in peak oil in my opinion, but I do acknowledge that any improvement in Eastern Europe could provoke a very sharp and deep sell-off. Despite Iran’s missile launches into Iraq over the weekend, it and the nuclear deal appear to be off the market’s radar for now.
Oil traded sideways on Friday, rallying modestly as investors hedged weekend risk. Brent crude rose 2.95% to USD 112.95 a barrel, while WTI rose 3.15% to USD 109.15 a barrel. In Asia, both contracts have reversed most of those gains. Brent crude is 2.0% lower at USD 110.20 and WTI is 2.35% lower at USD 106.70 a barrel.
Any progress, no matter how tentative, could see support for Brent at USD 106.00 a barrel and WTI at USD 104.00 quickly tested. In this scenario, both would then probably move back below USD 100.00 a barrel, although with the stagflation pressures in the world here to stay, Ukraine settlement or not, that is likely to be the lows for the next few months. Brent and WTI have probably seen their multi-month highs for now last week as markets appear to be getting more comfortable with the new normal. That said, I do not believe the oil at USD 100 a barrel will spur OPEC to pump more, supporting prices, even if Iran comes in from the cold. Oil could yet return to USD 130.00+ a barrel but talk of USD 200 a barrel is needless scaremongering.
Gold has burnt too many fingers once again
Gold’s price action on Friday and today suggests that its safe-haven status has waned once again. The primary reason for this is the aggressive nature of the pullbacks; last week’s one was a classic that has put gold in the too-hard box for many investors and traders. In the bigger picture, gold is doing exactly what it should do in a war and stagflation environment, remaining near all-time highs. That is cold comfort, though, if you bought gold above USD 2050.00 an ounce last week and are looking at a USD 100 an ounce loss already.
As gold continues to burn the hand that feeds it, prices fell on Friday. Gold finished 0.40% lower at USD 1988.50 an ounce and is retreating once again in Asia, falling 0.75% to USD 1973.50 an ounce. Support/resistance comes in at USD 1960.00 and USD 2010.00 an ounce. A failure of USD 1960 could spur capitulation trades, taking it back to USD 1920.00 and possibly USD 1880.00 an ounce.
If anything, silver prices continue to trade much more constructively after the longer-term breakout above USD 24.1000. It remains to be seen, though, if silver can retain its lustre if gold continues losing its shine.
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