Man who called the oil crush now sees this

Two years ago, when oil was trading around $50 a barrel, one hedge fund manager boldly called a 40 percent decline in the commodity, a prediction for which he has come to be known.

Oil hit a low of $26.21 in February 2016, one year after his call, before rallying to just above $50.

Now, as crude oil has fallen over 10 percent year to date and has traded in a range for much of this year, Mark Yusko of Morgan Creek Capital Management sees crude falling even further — but ending the year near $60 a barrel.

"We think oil's kind of going to be stuck in a rut here. I think there are a lot of oil bulls out there, particularly at the beginning of the year," he said Friday in an interview on CNBC's "Trading Nation."

Crude oil will likely "drift from the low $40s up toward $60 by the end of the year. I think it'll be pretty flatish in the $50s during the summer, and then we'll get that last December rally into year-end like we got last year, and probably finish in the high 50s, maybe hit $60."

The increase in U.S. production this year has come as a surprise, Yusko said. U.S. crude oil stocks rose to a record high in mid-March, according to Energy Information Administration data. WTI crude oil settled higher on Friday, at $48.14 a barrel.

Yusko likes energy names like Diamondback Energy, Pioneer Energy, Parsley Energy and RSP Permian.

When it comes to the broader markets at this juncture, Yusko senses "a lot of bluster and not a lot of substance."

"There's a lot of hope built into these markets today on the Trump trifecta of regulatory relief and tax cuts and fiscal spending. And I think there's going to be a whole lot of nothing by the end of the year."

Looking back, Yusko's 2015 call served him well. In February 2015, Yusko wrote in a note, "speculative long futures positions drives Oil down close to the 2008 lows ($30)" under the headline, "No Fracking Around."

Furthermore, "prices stay in the $40-$50 range much longer than expected as structural challenges in the U.S. and OPEC make it difficult for market participants to move supply/demand back into balance," he wrote.

Disclosure: Mark Yusko does not personally own Diamondback Energy, Pioneer Energy, Parsley Energy and RSP Permian, but owns them in Morgan Creek Capital funds.


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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 CNBCand 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

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