Oil is soaring, and it looks like there’s no end to the rally in sight, says market watcher

Crude oil hasn't seen these kinds of highs in more than three years. Now market watchers are asking, "Will it stay there?"

To Boris Schlossberg, managing director of BK Asset Management, the answer lies in the Middle East.

"That's the key story here: Iran. Obviously geopolitics is what's driving oil at this point," Schlossberg told CNBC's "Trading Nation."

Crude oil spiked 3 percent on Wednesday to settle at its highest level since November 2014. Crude's rally was in response to President Donald Trump's decision announced Tuesday to abandon the Iran nuclear accord. An exit from that deal would reimpose sanctions on the oil-rich country.

Indeed, oil prices rose again Thursday after Israeli airstrikes on Iranian positions in Syria following an Iranian rocket barrage aimed at Israel.

"I think the story is not going to go away," Schlossberg said Wednesday. "Even if the tensions kind of ease, they're really boiling on the surface and I think that pretty much keeps oil prices elevated for the near term."

Trump has promised to enact the "highest level of economic sanctions" against Iran, which would cut off the U.S. market from its oil exports. Iran exported more than 2.6 million barrels of oil per day in April, the third-largest crude exporter in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. Sanctions could impact about one-eighth of total exports, analysts say.

"Things like MLPs, oil and gas MLPs, may be an interesting bet on a long-term basis simply because I don't think it's going to be a parabolic move up and down in oil," said Schlossberg. "I think oil stays bid for quite a while because geopolitical tensions are going to stay with us for quite a while."

Energy stocks were the best performers on the S&P 500 on Wednesday. The energy sector has risen more than 12 percent this quarter and is up 5 percent this year.

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A run-up in oil prices poses a lot less risk to the U.S. economy than it used to as domestic shale oil production picks up speed, according to Michael Bapis, partner and managing director at the Bapis Group at HighTower Advisors.

"Obviously there are going to be geopolitical overhang that we're going to have haunt us for a little while, but we don't think it matters as much as it used to. The U.S. has increased production in oil," Bapis said on "Trading Nation" Wednesday.

Overall oil production in the U.S. reached a record 10.7 million barrels a day last week, according to the Energy Information Administration. Output ticked up from 10.6 million barrels in the previous week.

"Companies like Exxon Mobil we're focusing on," said Bapis. "Good fundamentals, very good dividend yield, and they've lagged the sector. We think there's going to be positive upside for Exxon going forward."

Exxon Mobil has bounced higher this week, though its recent rise has not reversed sharp losses suffered in February and March. It remains 4 percent lower for the year, while the XLE energy ETF has gained 5 percent.


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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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