Energy sector-related exchange traded funds gained on Monday on hopes that the COVID-19 Omicron variant won’t weigh on global demand in the new year, despite a recent spike in infections and canceled flights.
On Monday, the ALPS Alerian MLP ETF (NYSEArca: AMLP) increased 1.8%, and the JPMorgan Alerian MLP Index ETN (NYSEArca: AMJ) advanced 1.6%. The more widely observed Energy Select Sector SPDR Fund (NYSEArca: XLE) was 2.0% higher.
Meanwhile, the United States Oil Fund (NYSEArca: USO), which tracks West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures, and the United States Brent Oil Fund (NYSEArca: BNO), which tracks Brent crude oil futures, were up 2.6% and 2.1%, respectively, on Monday. Western Texas Intermediate crude oil futures were up 2.5% to $75.7 per barrel, and Brent crude gained 3.3% to $78.7 per barrel.
“Lower travel equaling lower economic activity in the U.S. equals lower WTI,” Jeffrey Halley, analyst at brokerage OANDA, told Reuters, adding that the divergence between Brent and WTI could indicate that global recovery remains on course.
“The disruption to goods and services from isolating workers, notably air travel, seems to be the main fallout so far,” Halley noted of rising Omicron cases. “That is only likely to cause short-term nerves, with the global recovery story for 2022 still on track.”
Crude oil prices have surged in 2021 on recovering global demand and supply curbs from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, or OPEC+, even as a resurgence in coronavirus cases has contributed to market volatility. For instance, crude oil prices plunged by more than 10% on November 26 when reports of a new variant first emerged, but prices rallied after early reports suggested that the new Omicron variant could potentially cause a relatively mild case of illness.
“Though Omicron is spreading faster than any COVID-19 variant yet, a relatively relieving news is that most people infected with Omicron are showing mild symptoms, at least so far,” Leona Liu, analyst at Singapore-based DailyFX, told Reuters.
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