Worst may be Over for Oil ETFs

The United States Oil Fund (NYSEArca: USO), which tracks West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures, is up nearly 15% over the past three months while the United States Brent Oil Fund (NYSEArca: BNO), which tracks Brent crude oil futures, has surged more than 28% over that period.

Those showings might just be enough for some investors to think the worst is over for oil prices. Some analysts appear inclined to agree. Still, there are plenty of factors to consider before coming to the conclusion that oil and the related exchange traded products are completely out of the woods. Earlier this month, Saudi Arabia and Iran failed to find common ground during the oil freeze talks in Doha, Qatar.

Saudi Arabia declined to push forward with a supply limit at current levels if Iran continued to ramp up supply – Iran has been steadily increasing exports to pre-sanction levels. Add to that, some members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), including Iran, are considering boosting production to make up for lost revenue.

Iran, which is just coming off a years of a sanctions and embargo, has been left out of the oil market and is just beginning to ramp up production for global sale. The Middle East country maintained that it will not contribute to any output freeze until its crude exports hit pre-sanction levels.

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Kuwait oil workers are protesting cuts in pay and benefits after the Middle Eastern oil exporter diminished subsidies and government handouts in response to the plunge in crude prices. Virendra Chauhan, an oil analyst at Energy Aspects Ltd., projects that the strike could last 10 to 15 days – the government set up a joint committee to negotiate with the union over 10 days.

Consequently, the output loss from Kuwait could exceed the global surplus that brought oil prices to a 12-year low in February.