Why oil’s next big move could take it higher

Crude oil settled down almost 2 percent Tuesday, hitting a two-month low around $43 a barrel. However, one trader says the options market indicates that a large move higher may be ahead.

Stacey Gilbert, head of derivative strategy at Susquehanna, said oil trading continues to be a high-volatility environment. And while crude could see more losses, she said, any big move is more likely to come to the upside.

"Although oil can clearly go lower, the one thing the options are saying is that the larger moves, we're talking moves of 15 to 20 percent, they are slightly favored to be more to the upside than to the downside," Gilbert said Tuesday on CNBC's "Power Lunch."

Indeed, many market professionals see a sharp spike in crude oil as more likely than a continued decline. They reason that the drop in crude comes from heavy supply and somewhat weak demand, and that those dynamics are unlikely to get even more bearish from here.

However, a jump in crude could be spurred by a worsening geopolitical situation in the Middle East that will lead to questions about supply; if a so-called geopolitical premium creeps back into oil, a sharp spike could be in store.

According to Phillip Streible of RJO Futures, crude oil is on its way to breaking below the $40 level to $38 a barrel. That would be another 12 percent drop from where crude oil settled Tuesday.

"This bear market is starting to accelerate," he said Tuesday. "Oil prices are going to go the path of least resistance and that looks to be lower right now."

The Baker Hughes rig count for the U.S. remained unchanged on Oct. 23 from the week before, after seeing seven straight weeks of declines.

But while the decline in the rig count may seem bullish, foreign imports of oil have surged, offsetting the drop in U.S. production, Streible said.

According to its most recent report, the U.S. Energy Information Administration saw crude oil imports increase to 7.5 million barrels per day in the week ended Oct. 16. "At 476.6 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories remain near levels not seen for this time of year in at least the last 80 years," the report said.

Want to be a part of the Trading Nation? If you'd like to call into our live Wednesday show, email your name, number and a question to TradingNation@cnbc.com


Trades to Watch

Trader Bios


Trading Nation is a multimedia financial news program that shows investors and traders how to use the news of the day to their advantage. This is where experts from across the financial world – including macro strategists, technical analysts, stock-pickers, and traders who specialize in options, currencies, and fixed income – come together to find the best ways to capitalize on recent developments in the market. Trading Nation: Where headlines become opportunities.

Michael Santoli

Michael Santoli joined CNBC in October 2015 as a Senior Markets Commentator, based at the network's Global Headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, N.J.  Santoli brings his extensive markets expertise to CNBC's Business Day programming, with a regular appearance on CNBC's Closing Bell (M-F, 3PM-5PM ET). In addition, he contributes to CNBC and CNBC PRO, writing regular articles and creating original digital videos.

Previously, Santoli was a Senior Columnist at Yahoo Finance, where he wrote analysis and commentary on the stock market, corporate news and the economy. He also appeared on Yahoo Finance video programs, where he offered insights on the most important business stories of the day, and was a regular contributor to CNBC and other networks.

Follow Michael Santoli on Twitter @michaelsantoli

Read more