Pro Rings the Death Knell for Crude Oil Rally
The days of triple-digit prices for U.S. crude are "numbered" as the "crazy bull market" for oil continues to run out of gas, argued Citigroup analyst Seth Kleinman on Tuesday, even as West Texas Intermediate traded near its one-month high of $97 a barrel.
WTI shook off early weakness but still lost 13 cents to trade below $97 a barrel, while Brent crude for May delivery slid 70 cents to $110.38 a barrel. U.S. gasoline futures posted the biggest percentage drop in the oil futures complex, pushing below the 50-day moving average of $3.0477 a gallon, a technical level closely monitored by chart watching traders and analysts.
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Kleinman, though, sees several reasons why crude oil could continue to fall in the near future.
The supply-demand dynamic, for example, has changed over the last few years, said Kleinman, head of energy strategy at Citigroup. A few years ago, demand for oil spiked, but OPEC controlled most of the supply and refused to ramp up production. The United States now produces a sizable amount of oil, helping send WTI lower, he said.
The process of refining also has changed, Kleinman said. Before, there simply wasn't enough refining capacity to keep up with demand.
"There was genuine, real fundamental tightness, especially on the refining side, and that's what ultimately drives the market because you're not out there buying oil to put into your SUV. You're buying gasoline or if you're in Europe, diesel or jet fuel if you're an airline," he said.
From railways to pipeline, it's now easier to get oil in and out of Cushing, Okla., a global storage center for crude stockpiles in the U.S., Kleinman added. That wasn't the case a few years ago, so prices rose, he said.
Meanwhile, he said, markets have opted for alternative energy over oil.
"You're seeing this substitution of natural gas for oil in a big part of the various sectors of the global oil market across the world," Kleinman said. "There is enough to actually see oil demand start to top out as soon as the end of this decade."
From the New York Mercantile Exchange, professional trader Anthony Grisanti took a slightly more bullish view on crude, especially as the U.S. is the world's biggest oil consumer and the economy seems to be improving. He added that demand for crude tends to rise in the summer, when more Americans take to the road.
Grisanti said the technicals for WTI suggest a range-bound market, though, finding a low of $91 a barrel and a high of $97 a barrel.
"Until it breaks one way or another, I'm just going to play these ranges," said Grisanti on CNBC's "Futures Now," adding that he plans to sell the May crude oil futures contract at $96.90 with a target of $94.10 and a stop of $98.
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