Crude oil prices dropped precipitously on Wednesday, and according to experts, are now on track to enter a bear market, as U.S. data revealed a weekly crude supply climb of almost 7 million barrels, to its highest level in nearly two years.
The slump has been the result of a combination of oil sanctions issued against a variety of nations including Iran and Venezuela, and weak demand as investors worry about a stalling global economy and an escalating trade war between the United States and China.
The United States has also threatened tariffs on goods from major trading partner Mexico. U.S. President Donald Trump vowed that tariffs of 5% will be imposed on all Mexican exports to the United States on Monday if Mexico does not augment efforts to stymie an increase in migrants heading for the U.S. border.
However, experts believe that the president may delay tariffs in an effort to keep the stock market from languishing, something that could also boost the crude oil market.
“We believe that Trump will delay any tariffs as he will attempt to preclude another dive in the stock market,” Jim Ritterbusch of Ritterbusch and Associates said in a note.
Oil prices rose on Friday, climbing off the five-month lows hit this week, after Saudi Arabia said OPEC was close to agreeing to extend an output production cut beyond June.
Investors looking to participate in the recent volatility and vacillating moves in crude have access to a number of ETFs, depending on their goals and time-frame for trading. Oil ETFs like United States Oil Fund (USO, United State Brent Oil Fund (BNO), Invesco CB Oil Fund (DBO) ETFs are good for dealing directly with the futures markets, which are much more volatile and require a costly margin inputs.
USO for example holds front-month futures contracts on WTI, rolling trades into the next contract every month. One caveat for investors to consider is that this method is particularly sensitive to short-term changes in spot prices, but can also result in heavy roll costs. That makes USO a great vehicle for riding short-term to medium-term moves in crude prices, but long-term investors may want to look elsewhere.
Crude ETFs like ProShares Ultra Bloomberg Crude Oil (UCO), VelocityShares 3x Long Crude Oil ETN (UWT), ProShares UltraPro 3x Crude Oil ETF (OILU), United States 3x Oil Fund (USOU) are good bet for investors targeting a near-term long bias, depending on risk appetite. These funds are not meant for long holding periods, and should be monitored daily. UCO, for example, seeks double the return of its futures-based index on a daily basis. As a geared product, UCO is designed for a one-day holding period; it’s not appropriate for buy-and-hold investors.
Finally, for investors looking to ride the downside of the oil market, ETFs such as ProShares Ultra Bloomberg Crude Oil (SCO), DB Crude Oil Double Short ETN (DTO), ProShares UltraPro 3x Short Crude Oil ETF (OILD) enable investors to satisfy their short bias. However, ETFs like SCO are intended as a short-term tactical investment to be held only for a one-day exposure period. These are not the best choice for buy-and-hold investors.
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