With oil hitting fresh 19-month lows (U.S. crude oil futures are slightly higher today) investors are beginning to wonder, where’s OPEC? The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the cartel is mulling over whether to hold an emergency meeting. In addition, they’re talking about additional production cuts. But to coin a phrase “talk is cheap.” On CNBC’s “Morning Call” Liz Claman investigated whether OPEC has any ‘real’ control over oil prices.
The volatility in the price of crude oil, over the past few weeks has convinced many investors that its time to pack their bags and hop on the next train. CNBC’s Hampton Pearson reports that money is moving out of oil and into technology and consumer stocks.
People like, Kevin Kerr, Editor of the Resource Trader Alert want to see some action out of OPEC. “We’ve heard a lot from them. Unless they actually do take action we’re not going to see a rally in prices. But this could be the rallying cry for them. With prices back down at $52 things are a lot different than when they were at $78 or $60.”
Eric Bolling, a veteran of the trading pits and one of CNBC’s “Fast Money Five” says OPEC pronouncements are irrelevant. “I’ve been doing this 20 years and all 20 years they’ve been cheating on their output quotas. They’re cheating on the quota they developed last year for December. They have an output cut for February that they’re probably going to cheat on. It doesn’t matter if they meet again and promise not to cheat , they’ll still cheat.”
With OPEC so 'reliably unreliable' what should investors be watching. Eric Bolling said “You know what’s more important than OPEC, the price of gasoline. When gasoline doesn’t rally, crude oil’s not going up I don’t care what OPEC says they’re going to do. The last time oil was this price, the gas crack (or the value of the gas price over the value of the crude price) was 50% higher than it is right now. Unless gasoline rallies, crude doesn’t have a shot in the you know where.”
On a related note, BP CEO John Brown announced plans to retire in June. (BP had said earlier that retirement wasn't planned until the end of 2008.) In typical no-holds barred style Eric Bolling said, "BP is one of the big players in the game. I hate to see anyone leave when oil prices are depressed like this. I don’t want to make any correlation. He might be seeing some earnings and warnings that cause the stock price to go down. Not a great time for him to leave."
Does this mean there’s nothing left for oil bulls to do, but go away and lick their wounds. Not according to Bolling, “Stick around,” he said, “because oil prices can rally.”