Brent crude oil fell to its lowest in over four years on Tuesday as Saudi Arabia cut its selling price to U.S. buyers in an apparent attempt to hang onto to its share of the world's largest market.
Brent crude futures fell below $82.50, levels not seen since October 2010 following a 25 percent price fall since June this year and oil majors have not been immune to the slide.
European energy giants BP and Total are both down over 10 percent in the last six months, Royal Dutch Shell has fallen over 8 percent and U.S. groups Exxon Mobil and Chevron are both down around 6 percent lower over the same period.
But the precipitous descent of the oil price in recent weeks has not pushed energy shares to new lows, as much of the damage of Brent's decline "has already been done" according to asset managers.
"Despite the sharp tumble in the price of oil, we believe there are a number of companies not only hedged against the recent fall in the oil price, but also in a position to benefit from M&A or strengthening credit ratings," fund managers at Kames Capital Phil Milburn and Claire McGuckin said.
"We are overweight midstream companies, which tend to be more fee-based than commodity-exposed businesses, and underweight the independent energy companies," he said.
The duo said they are avoiding businesses using debt to ramp up production levels given their exposure to the oil price.
Oil cartel the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries said on Tuesday that it is concerned about crude oil prices that, but is not panicking.
The United Arab Emirates energy minister declined to say if OPEC would cut output when it meets at the end of this month's much awaited meeting in Vienna.
Falling oil prices, coupled with a strengthening dollar have been putting downward pressure on inflation expectations, which has helped U.S. Treasurys trade at lower and lower yields according to the Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
This in turn feeds into higher implied volatilities in equities, the bank said.
Analysts have questioned whether the weakness in oil price could cap gains in stock markets. But chief market technician at Sterne Agee Carter Worth said the four-year low was more of a macroeconomic concern rather than a stock specific one.
"It is an issue for the S&P in that it speaks to the macro subject at hand which is – is there a disinflationary environment that continues and what does that mean for the ability for equities to advance at the incredible rate that they have been doing," he said adding that markets appear to have "priced in" the oil price into share price of oil majors.
"The energy shares market has not really made incremental new lows, even as energy has made new lows, meaning the damage has already been done over the last two to three months," he added.