Big Players And Big Oil Moves


Following Thursday's monster reversal on oil, a couple of equity traders sent me pretty skeptical e-mails saying "Seriously??!" Their take, the oil move is purely speculative, and they blamed the big players.

One of them pointed out that it came on the day that Rep. Bart Stupak said it's time to shore up the loopholes that have allowed big speculators to manipulate the energy market.

When a reporter asked whether he meant Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, his response, "You said it, not me." Stupak underscored he saw no illegal activity by speculators.

But the Oil Conspiracy theorists got more ammunition Friday morning when Morgan Stanley analysts came out with a call on $150 oil by July 4th. Goldman had predicted by the end of the year. Morgan Stanley and Goldman's calls move the energy markets, and both are focused on fundamental global oil supply constraints. Ole Slorer & company at Morgan Stanley say there are no signs of demand destruction in Asia, and that in fact, Asia continues to take an unprecedented share.

But, seriously, did that whole premise really change so dramatically in just four days???

MF Global's Mike Fitzpatrick is skeptical: "The signs we have been chronicling all week seem to be unmistakable that demand is already beginning to contract. Economic history shows that fundamentals usually win, in the end. But that is the the end; we all have seen innumerable examples where emotion can carry a market quite far and this may just be another example."

Blame The Central Bankers
And then there's Ben, Jean-Claude and the Greenback. Ben Bernanke's unprecedented defense of the dollar helped the oil bears argue that we had put in a top, sending the dollar higher and WTI eyeing $120. But what Ben giveth the dollar, Jean-Claude Trichet taketh away. $120 before $130 was not to be. The shorts got squeezed like Orange Julius Original smoothie.

Alaron's Phil Flynn takes aim at the Frenchman in his note today: "Mr. Trichet basically said sorry Ben the dollar is your problem and don’t look to Europe to help you out. In fact, look for Europe to squeeze you because we are raising rates to squeeze you and drive you into recession because we are in better shape to handle it.

Trichet is saying damn the dollar. It is not right to use monetary policy to support a currency or to influence oil prices even if that currency is the world currency of all commodities. Why can’t he see that the dollar woes are adding to the costs of oil?"

Add in hawkish comments from Israel this morning, about an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities being "unavoidable," another dollar swoon on the back of the employment report, and the Morgan Stanley call and it was off to the races this morning. As one floor trader put it, "it got ugly fast."

It's feeling feeling overbought here....but given the frothiness, I would not bet on $120 before $150. Then again, I wouldn't bet against it either.

Questions? Comments?