ETF Trends
ETF Trends

Oil exchange traded funds (ETFs) are at a crossroads. The crisis in Greece and a strengthening dollar are pushing prices lower, but OPEC has made moves to keep prices where they are for now. Meanwhile, summer driving season isn’t far off.

Where oil prices stop, nobody knows. But we can certainly look for clues in the recent news:

  • The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) have decided to leave production quotas alone and to let the world crude-oil price float around $80 to help fund new exploration and production without shattering the fragile global recovery, reports Steven Mufson for The Washington Post. Industrialized countries currently hold high levels of petroleum reserves and non-OPEC countries are expected to increase oil output. [Oil and Gas ETF Plays for Rising Energy Prices.]
  • Roger Diwan, an oil expert at PFC Energy, also believes investors are pushing oil prices as they try to hoard hard assets because they expect the dollar to depreciate.
  • The Energy Information Administration stated that U.S. average price for regular gasoline increased for the fourth week in a row. The average is around $2.79 per gallon, or 88 cents higher than it was year-over-year. [The Top 10 ETFs Being Traded.]
  • There may be a little extra motivation to keep prices low – the economy is still fragile. Matt Duffield for Examiner argues that there has been a positive relationship between oil prices and the stock market over past year, but J.J. Burns of J.J. Burns & Company recently warned that the oil and stock market relationship is the beginning of a major disaster for stock prices, writes David Bettencourt for Benzinga.
  • Taking a closer examination of United States Oil (NYSEArca: USO), Duffield notes that the fund may be on the verge of breaking out of an ascending triangle pattern. If the pattern pans out, crude oil and gas prices could rise as much as 25% in the coming weeks and months. [Contango and ETFs – What Is It?]

USO tries to reflect the performance of the spot price of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) light, sweet crude oil. The fund invests in futures contracts for WTI light, sweet crude oil, other types of crude oil, heating oil, gasoline, natural gas and other petro-based fuels. It may also invest in cash-settled options on futures contracts, forward contracts and OTC transactions based on oil prices.

  • United States Oil (NYSEArca: USO)

  • PowerShares DB Oil (NYSEArca: DBO): Also holds futures contracts

  • United States Gasoline (NYSEArca: UGA): Holds futures contracts on gasoline

  • SPDR S&P Oil & Gas Exploration & Production (NYSEArca: XOP): Tracks companies involved in the exploration and production of oil and like XES, doesn’t correlate with the spot price, but gives good exposure to the industry.

  • iShares Dow Jones U.S. Oil and Gas Exploration (NYSEArca: IEO): Like XOP; gives exposure to companies involved in the production and exploration of oil and other energy commodities.

Max Chen contributed to this article.

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.