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The oil has gone into negative territory

Yesterday was a historical day in the oil market. The American market, called West Texas Intermediate (WTI), moved to minus USD40—a fantastic move. The reason for this is likely connected to storage issues as people are consuming far less fuel amid the quarantines.

Put simply, the US has run out of storage space even as shale continues to produce a significant amount. Another likely reason behind the drop is credit risk. As fear enveloped the market, investors began getting rid of oil.

What does this mean? Global gasoline prices won’t go much lower, but could drop a bit more in the United States. Brent prices (Europe) have not collapsed in any shape or form—they remain steady.

What we’ve seen over the past few weeks is oil prices that are much lower, in general, than they used to be, and this translates into a transfer of wealth from Russia and Saudi Arabia and their allies to the rest of the world. There are winners and losers in this process.

In the coming days and weeks, we’ll see increased pressure to have another deal with OPEC+ and to reduce overall global production, potentially involving the Americans in one way or another. This could eventually have a huge impact on oil prices. The opportunity set for fund managers is vast, particularly in Emerging Markets, and the dynamics of oil prices mean some agility in rebalancing portfolios.

Sébastien Galy , April 2020

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