Talking Numbers

The surprising relationship between oil and stocks

The surprising relationship between oil and stocks

Turmoil in Iraq sent oil prices to 52-week highs on Friday. But, will high oil prices take down the near-record high stock market?

Not quite, if recent history is any guide. Sure, WTI crude oil contracts broke above $107 a barrel on Friday. But, higher oil prices have often been accompanied by higher stock prices, notes Mark Newton, chief technical analyst at Greywolf Execution Partners.

"Since 2009, the correlation [coefficient] has been almost 0.40" between the S&P 500 and the WTI crude oil contract, Newton said. He points out that stocks and oil moved together after oil bottomed in 1999, peaking in September 2000. They also moved in tandem from 2003 to 2006. But, it hasn't always been predictable.

(Read: Oil settles higher as Iraq takes center stage)

"If you look at the three times that crude has peaked out or made new 52-week highs – one being in 2000, one in 2008, one in 2011 – you see different conclusions each time," Newton said. "When crude peaked out in '08, that's when stocks bottomed and had a decent rally. In 2011, it was just a minor blip where crude peaked out along with a lot of the other commodities. In the spring of 2011, we saw a brief pull back in stocks, but then stocks again were right back off to the races. So it's tough in my mind to think that there is any sort of correlation between crude moving up, must lead stocks down."

That doesn't mean higher crude oil prices won't have a long-run detrimental effect on stocks, Newton said. "But, from a pure technical standpoint, I just can't see why a lot is being made over crude moving higher has to immediately lead stocks lower."

(Watch: Without Iraq's oil, prices could hit $150-$200: Pickens)

Gina Sanchez, founder of Chantico Global, agrees that higher oil prices may not immediately affect stocks, but there is an indirect way they can affect corporate earnings.

"There is a relationship between oil and disposable income," said Sanchez, a CNBC contributor. "And there is a relationship between disposable income and earnings. So if you draw those two relationships, it has to lead you to the idea that oil does matter for earnings."

However, there is a disconnect between earnings and stock prices these day, according to Sanchez.

"The problem is that earnings are not really what's driving the stock market and they haven't driven the stock market for a long time," Sanchez said. "Expense management, low interest rates, [and] cheap valuations in the beginning – there have been a lot of other things propping up this stock market."

Despite the situation in Iraq, Sanchez doesn't see a spike in oil prices in the future. "If we were to spike up to $120, that will make a difference," said Sanchez, adding, "Right now, I don't think it does."

To see the full discussion on the relationship between oil and stocks, with Newton on the technicals and Sanchez on the fundamentals, watch the above video.

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