Is Oil about to Rollover?

The price of oil has risen more than 20% over the past month. 
It is being driven by ideas that OPEC (and Russia) may implement a
freeze or an output cut at the end of next month.  At the same time, US
crude stocks trended lower.  

The market has discounted good news, but the news stream has turned. 
Momentum players may still managed to lift prices to marginal new highs
above last week $51.60 high basis the November light sweet crude
contract, but the risk is that the larger move comes to the downside.  

The Slow Stochastics have already rolled over, and the MACDs are poised to cross lower in the coming days.  The RSI is elevated but is flat for the third session, warning that momentum is flagging.  

More
importantly, the fundamental story is becoming more nuanced.  First,
there is a growing dispute within OPEC about the current level of
output.
  The Secretariat in Vienna compiles its estimate from
national reports and secondary sources.  Iran, Iraq and Venezuela
object, complaining that their output is higher than the Secretariat
reports.  Iran, for example, claims its output in September was 3.89 mln
barrels a day, or 300k more than OPEC’s official estimate.  Iraq claims
it is producing 320k barrels a day more than OPEC acknowledges. 
Venezuela says that OPEC is excluding the heavy oil its produced in the
Orinoco  Belt.  This would added around 245k barrels OPEC ‘s estimate.  

Second, Russia may not be a reliable partner for OPEC
Russia has been expanding its output, and estimates suggest that here
in October it is producing about 100k barrels a day more than last
month.   A freeze would still leave it producing the most among of oil
since the Soviet era.  

Third, US producers are increasing their drilling operations. 
The oil rig count increased last week for the seventh consecutive
week.  The rig count is the highest since February and has risen by 100
(to 432) since June.   US oil inventories had fallen for six weeks, but
rose by almost five mln barrels last week.  For this time of year,
inventories are at record levels.  

Initial support for the November contract is seen near $49.80. 
It probably requires a break of the $49.15-$49.35 recently lows to
convince others that a near-term top is in place.   From a medium-term
perspective, the $46-48 band is important.   Our work has shown that for
some currencies, including the Canadian dollar, the rate differential
story is more important a driver than oil.  The Norwegian krone and
Mexican peso also seem somewhat less sensitive to the vagaries of oil
movement.  On the other hand, the Russian ruble has become more
sensitive to oil pries recently, and the 60-day rolling correlation (on
percentage change) is at its most extreme reading since June.





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