June 30, 2015

Where do oil prices go next?

Looked like readers here (see poll at right) pegged oil prices as of today just about right.

They closed yesterday at just over $58/bbl for West Texas Intermediate.

That said, we've got three clouds on the horizon for the next few months that could affect oil prices' future.

They are:
1. Greece's possible departure from the Eurozone;
2. Puerto Rico's debt crisis, which almost certainly will lead to it seeking Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection (It's already being advised by a lawyer that helped the city of Detroit with that);
3. The ramped-up intransigence of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei on nuclear talks with the West + Russia and China.

One interesting "tell" is that Brent is slumping even more than WTI, so that, despite the storage capacity issues at Cushing, Oklahoma, elsewhere, the Brent/WTI gap has narrowed a fair amount in the last week or so.

Meanwhile, today is the official end date for Iranian talks, but they're expected to continue.

But, to what end? Is Khamenei banking that Russia and China, at least, will soon tire of maintaining stringent sanctions? If that's the case, just like with a successful conclusion, more Iranian oil hits the market and prices fall. However, Iranian intransigence would add a bit of destabilization.

So, what next?

I predict crude will likely stay in a $55-65 band (WTI) for the next quarter. I'll have a poll up soon. Oh, and be skeptical of people who keep saying oil prices are going to explode. They're not. Here in the US, the supply-hoarding issue will keep somewhat of a lid on things. In Europe, Greece issues will put a definite lid on Brent. And, more proof oil bulls are wrong? Many analysts think US gas prices have already hit their summer peak.

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