Posted in: Commentary,
by Patrick DeHaan on Dec 10, 2009 01:47 PM
All I can say is that it's about time oil prices begin to fall under $70. Ironically, much of the reason is that the dollar has been gaining strength lately, the exact opposite of a few weeks ago when the weak dollar was causing oil prices to rise.
It seems that oil is having some difficulty today breaking under $70. As of now, oil stands at $70.05, a mere six-cents shy of going under the important $70 level. What happens if oil breaches $70? We may see it fall more as technical selling takes over and pushes oil to $67-$69. What has changed since last week that has caused the biggest losing streak in oil since July? The dollar- and looking at things, it really hasn't strengthened all that much (shh, don't point this out to traders!)
When oil was trading near $77/barrel, the Euro bought over 1.51 U.S. dollars. Today, one Euro buys 1.47 U.S. dollars, a mere four-cent difference. (READ MORE!) However small, this signifies that the dollar is strengthening, perhaps shifting sentiment back towards the dollar, thus pushing prices lower. A strong dollar means oil becomes more expensive for European countries and cheaper for the U.S., which bodes well for economic recovery here.
Now, stepping back from oil and looking at gasoline prices, I see much of the nation is approaching prices that are $1 higher than last year. More surprising is how gasoline is so much more expensive this year considering how the jobless rate has spiked and demand continues to be sloppy. In a bit of good news, as wholesale gasoline prices fall (down an additional couple pennies per gallon today), that savings will make its way to retail pumps across the U.S. and Canada, and prices between now and Christmas may actually fall five to ten cents per gallon.
Don't forget to keep an eye on "old man winter" though- any significant cold stretches could raise demand for heating oil, adding upward pressure on oil prices. Just remember though that heating oil inventories are still above average and the year-ago level.