A ONCE-HOT MARKET COOLS DOWN TO SUB-ZERO TEMPERATURES
The above picture is an extreme example of the bargains available in the energy sector. I don’t necessarily recommend that ETF but it shows how hard oil has been hit in the marketplace.
The commodity is suffering short-term and long-term issues. According to Nasdaq.com, the 2008 price of crude oil was about $140 per barrel and is now not quite 50 dollars.
WHAT’S THE MATTER WITH OIL?
First, the short-term problem. There’s a global growth slowdown, excluding the U.S., fortunately. The biggest lame duck is China. The fastest-growing economy losing their momentum spells big trouble for all sorts of commodities, ranging from copper and lumber to energy.
Another very short-term, seasonal issue is winter. We just use less gas, and oil, in the winter. We’re not running around having fun in the sun. We’re stuck in the house and at work, using natural gas and electricity.
LONG-TERM, SYSTEMIC OIL PROBLEMS
The major problem: technology, in the form of fracking and horizontal drilling. These two methods are smothering long-term high oil prices. They’re responsible for the U.S. turning around a 60-year (!) trend of fuel importing and turning into a fuel exporter.
That’s huge news. A systemic problem. We’re now in the league of Saudi Arabia and other major oil reservists. This change will have lasting impact in the industry and market.
That being said, is the world going to abandon oil use? Not any time soon. That’s why I’m optimistic about the price of oil coming back. I even made a prediction, earlier in the year, that oil would be 50% higher by the end of December. We’ll know very soon if I made a foolish prediction.
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A few widely-held ETFs that are oil plays (and year-to-date performance*):
- USO: Unites States Oil Fund (-27.90%)
- DBO: DB Oil Fund (-27.71)
- IEO: iShares U.S. Oil/Gas Exploration & Production (-21.40)
- XLE: Energy Select Sector SPDR (-21.06)
And a few popular oil-based stocks (with year-to-date performance*):
- XOM: Exxon Mobile (-17.25%)
- CVX: Chevron (26.82)
- BHI: Baker Hughes (-6.28)
* Data sourced from Morningstar.com