BMO: This could keep a lid on oil gains

Investors are eyeing next week's big meeting among oil producing nations as the next big catalyst for oil, but according to one market watcher, the gathering may not have as much of an impact on prices as most people think.

On CNBC's "Futures Now," BMO Private Bank CIO Jack Ablin explained that investors should instead look to another commodity for clues on where oil could go next.

"One of the things that fundamentally weigh against oil is natural gas," said Ablin. According to Ablin, when the difference between the cost of oil and natural gas increases, it often signals an inflection point for the two commodities.

"If the spread is wide, it encourages transportation companies to make that switch from [diesel into natural gas], he said. Right now, natural gas is trading at the equivalent of $12.50 a barrel. I don't see how oil can get substantially above $40 with natural gas trading that low."

On Tuesday, natural gas rose over 5 percent to hit highs dating to early February. Additionally, AAA reported that gas prices began April at the cheapest levels since 2009.

If current demand levels remain as is, Ablin anticipates that natural gas prices will stay low heading into summer thanks to the relatively mild winter.

"I think the seasonal factor for natural gas is the winter, [which was ultimately] a big letdown," said Ablin.

However, he cautioned against the bearish case for natural gas prices by noting the potential for renewed global demand from countries like Europe and Asia.

"To the extent we can get more of a global price for natural gas, we could see those prices rise. Anything that can break the stranglehold that Russia has on [European energy] will be welcome by [international] customers."


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