The United States Oil Fund (NYSEArca: USO), which tracks West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures, jumped 4.1% last week and some traders are betting oil prices can make a significant leap before the end of 2017.
Saudi Arabia is the largest producer and kingpin in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). For its part, OPEC remains concerned about the level of production by U.S. shale producers and the cartel is urging its U.S. rivals to pare output to support prices. According to the Energy Information Administration, crude oil product could hit 9.9 million barrels per day in 2018, which surpasses the prior high reached in 1970 of 9.6 million barrels per day.
“With oil prices trading near their highest level in two years, some traders are betting that the price rise could have more room to run,” reports Bloomberg. “A total of 48,000 contracts have traded over the last few days that would profit most if Brent spikes before Christmas, including several large individual trades. They include 14,000 options giving traders the right to buy February Brent at $71 a barrel, as well as 22,000 for $85 and 12,000 for $80. They all expire on Dec. 21.”
The United States Brent Oil Fund (NYSEArca: BNO), which tracks Brent crude oil futures, jumped nearly 5% last week and resides about 1.4% below a new 52-week high.
Current OPEC compliance with production cut plans remains above their historical average, and it usually takes between two to three quarters for inventories to normalize after the cuts. While demand has yet to catch up to elevated supplies, rebounding economies in Europe and steady economic growth in the U.S. could at least keep oil prices steady around current levels in the second half of 2017.