While oil prices have tumbled nearly 28 percent from their June highs, energy stocks have quietly staged a bit of a rally as of late.
In the last 30 days, the price of oil has fallen by 9 percent. However, the ETF tracking the energy sector (trading under the symbol XLE) gained 4 percent. Stocks like Exxon Mobil and Chevron are up 5 percent and 4 percent, respectively.
So are higher oil stock prices indicating crude will play catch-up and move a lot higher soon?
"I don't think there is a turn coming," said Gina Sanchez, founder of Chantico Global. She thinks the divergence may indicate a structural shift in the energy sector rather than a signal of future higher oil prices.
"Companies are increasing margins and making more money," said Sanchez, a CNBC contributor. "This divergence could continue as new technology disrupts this market."
However, the technicals are telling a different story, according to Ari Wald, head of technical analysis at Oppenheimer & Co. Wald sees two factors pulling crude in opposite directions. "On one side, oil is deeply oversold," he said. "It has come into very important support at the $75 level and also sentiment is very pessimistic. … So you would expect to see some sort of relief rally ahead of what could be a breakdown from that level."
Wald cites a recent Consensus Inc. survey showing that under a quarter of investors are bullish on crude oil. That could indicate there may be a turnaround in sentiment soon.
"On the other hand, it is a broken trend," Wald said. "I see a lot of resistance at $84. If we get some sort of relief rally here, I would be a seller into $84 oil."