Oil's Bottom Beckons

Oil has spent much of the fourth quarter slumping, plaguing exchange traded funds like the iShares U.S. Energy ETF (NYSEArca: IYE) along the way, but some market observer believe is a bottom is near for the beleaguered commodity.

IYE tracks the Dow Jones U.S. Oil & Gas Index and holds 68 stocks. Like other traditional cap-weighted energy ETFs, IYE devotes a significant portion of its lineup to Dow components Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM) and Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX), the two largest U.S. oil companies. Those stocks combine for over 38% of the ETF’s weight.

“One reason oil prices may be near a bottom: production appears set to decline after oversupply concerns contributed to the recent rout,” said BlackRock in a recent note. “The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its partners are expected to cut production at their meeting this week in an effort to help stabilize prices.”

Since 2016, OPEC pledges to curb production have steadied oil prices after substantial declines. Oil prices have previously hit multi-year highs in mid-2018 after President Donald Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal, which reinstated sanctions against the Middle Eastern country’s crude exports. Iran’s oil shipments have since declined by over a third and analysts expect more than a million barrels per day could be cut off from the market by the first quarter of 2019.

What’s Next For Oil?

Waning supply concerns and lower inventories could boost crude heading into next year.

“Global oil inventories saw the largest quarterly increase in three years last quarter,” according to BlackRock. “Oversupply concerns are poised to fade, however, with the potential OPEC cut, expiring Iranian sanction waivers and production decreases from many U.S. producers amid lower oil prices.”