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Crude trader - trying to price certainty in conflict

Chris Weston
Head of Research
9 Oct 2023
The high on our Brent crude price has been $89.68 – hit at midday – but while our clients are long of crude (65% of open interest is held long), we’re seeing better sellers in the broader market, as we roll towards EU trade.

The early rally felt reasonably orderly, but a lot of questions were being asked and without many immediate answers to obtain the certainty we crave as market participants - so naturally in this backdrop we get outsized moves, as a lack of clarity causes dispersions in price. When it comes to knowledge most market participants are now military experts and have quite poor knowledge of Middle East relations; again this makes it harder to price risk.

US crude daily


Our US crude price sits up 3.8%, off the earlier highs of $87.45 and holds the 50-day MA – should EU/UK traders come in and buy the slight intraday dips then $89.03 is the level to watch topside for supply. It could go either way, but on balance I favour selling into intraday rallies.

Today been some reversal after the recent sell down in crude into $82 – positioning played a big part in that run, but we had seen signs that the Saudis may look at increasing production at year-end. We had even seen positive steps at a geopolitical level; brokered by the US, an agreement that Saudi would recognize Israel and as MBS said, forge “the biggest historical deal since the end of the Cold War”. Instead of this positive backdrop, we have seen a 180-degree turn with Hamas's attack on Israel, with the market now questioning if we could see engagement with Hezbollah and Lebanon. With President Biden standing firm with Israel, the view is Iran’s oil exports which have been growing will be cut.

If we look at Crude ‘time spreads’ – that is, front-month crude futures – June 2024 futures - we see this +$0.97, so modestly higher – if we really felt like Saudi production was going to get impacted by the unfolding situation then this would higher still.  

If in doubt, switch gears and head to Nat Gas which is building on the recent breakout and looks like it may start to bull trend.

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