Last week was another brutal one at the office for oil and the related exchange traded products. Although the United States Oil Fund (NYSEArca: USO), which tracks West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures, rose nearly 1% last Friday, the benchmark oil ETF fell almost 4.4% for the week.
That brings USO’s year-to-date loss to over 25%. Further underscoring the weakness in the oil patch are the following data points. Three of the ETFs that made new 52-week lows last Friday were oil or energy funds and that does not include a country fund following stocks in a nation that is member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
While OPEC is cutting back to alleviate price pressures, U.S. fracking companies could jump to capitalize on the windfall as crude oil prices jump back above $50 per barrel – according to some estimates, shale oil producers can get by with oil at just over $50 per barrel due to advancements in technology and drilling techniques that have helped cut down costs.
In an interview with CNBC, Paul Ciana of Bank of America Merrill Lynch offered up some interesting views for oil, including that “the crude crush could actually be signaling a rally in the bond market. A note released by BofAML on Tuesday, titled “Bonds smile as oil cries,” remarked on the inverse moves between crude and bonds that has been occurring over the past years. According to Ciana, the inverse relationship is playing out once again “on an even larger scale,” meaning that if crude continues to fall, bonds could soar even higher.”
Traders looking to profit from falling oil prices have plenty of ETF options, including the ProShares UltraShort Bloomberg Crude Oil (NYSEArca: SCO), which tries to reflect the two times inverse or -200% daily performance of WTI crude oil, and DB Crude Oil Double Short ETN (NYSEArca: DTO), which also follows a -200% performance of oil.
“With Tuesday’s drop, oil prices have now sunk 19 percent year to date, largely thanks to supply issues related to OPEC and non-OPEC countries. Ciana does see $45.50 being a key level to reach and hold for oil, meaning that the commodity would need to rally 4 percent for some of the concerns to subside,” according to CNBC.
For more information on the crude oil market, visit our oil category.