In a scenario that is surely vexing and troublesome to drivers across the U.S., the United States Oil Fund (NYSEArca: USO) has plunged 31% this year, but prices at the pump are rising.
That scenario has USO’s gasoline counterpart, the United States Gasoline Fund (NYSEArca: UGA), higher by 1.6% year-to-date. UGA tracks the price of front month unleaded gasoline futures and its rise at a time of extended bearishness for oil prices is arguably surprising.
Refineries in California and Chicago are having issues processing crude, hindering new supply of gasoline from coming to market and refineries in other regions have been unable to make up for the lost supply, according to CNBC.
ETFs, like UGA, that track front month contracts benefit from backwardation as they roll front month contracts to avoid physical delivery of the commodity. When the contract is about to expire, UGA sells the futures contract and buys a cheaper later-dated contract in a backwardated market at a profit. [How Contango Can Affect Your Commodity ETF]
Some investment banks, though, are growing more bullish on the oil outlook for the rest of the year. For example, JP Morgan (NYSE: JPM) projects Brent crude oil to rise to $65 per barrel in the third quarter and $67 per barrel in the fourth, reports Arjun Kharpal for CNBC. Barclays analysts anticipate Brent to reach $61 per barrel in the third quarter and $66 per barrel in the fourth. Nevertheless, the bank warned of ongoing issues that may still cause short-term volatility, which contributed to their slightly lower forecast.
Looking ahead, oil observers expect the supply and demand dynamic to become more balanced in 2016. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries also projected rising demand for oil this year and the next, which could “imply an improvement toward a more balanced market.” [Oil ETFs Look to Rally]