These stocks are signaling a top in oil, says trader

Crude vs. energy stocks
Crude vs. energy stocks   

While oil has remained relatively steady in the past month, oil stocks have been selling off. The energy ETF, the XLE, is down 5 percent in the past 30 trading sessions making it the worst performing sector in the S&P 500 over that period. And according to one trader, the sell-off could signal a near-term top in the commodity.

"I do think we've seen a bit of a top here," said David Seaburg, head of sales trading at Cowen and Company, referring to oil's massive move off its lows.

Crude oil has rallied 40 percent from its low in mid-March, and has settled into a trading range from $57 on the low end to $62 on the high end for the better part of the last two months. But while Seaburg expects crude oil to "come in" a little bit, he doesn't see it re-touching the lows.

But while the rally in crude may have lifted oil stocks, Seaburg says the rally in energy-related stocks may have been a bit too much, and as such, he's looking to take profits. By his reasoning, the recent sell off in the XLE is a natural reaction to it overshooting on the way up and shouldn't portend selling in oil itself.

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But from a technical standpoint, chart expert Todd Gordon said that a decline in energy stocks is traditionally a leading indicator of where the underlying commodity might go.

"I think that crude oil is really going to start to roll over," Gordon said Tuesday on CNBC's "Trading Nation." "And I think that investors who are shorting the XLE are anticipating that move." The three biggest holdings in the XLE—Exxon Mobil, Chevron and Schlumberger—are down 4, 8 and 3 percent respectively in the past 30 trading sessions.

Gordon noted that when oil hit its low earlier this year, the XLE made a higher low. Typically, technicians see these type of chart moves as a confirmation of a buy or sell sign. The recent move lower in energy stocks, at least by Gordon's work, a clear tell on where crude is going next.

Gordon also points to other macro factors that may weigh on crude.

"Another factor is the dollar. If we see the dollar move off the Fed it's going to bring crude down," he added. "I'm exiting my long position."

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