May 3, 2015

The Oil Recovery in 2009: A Precedent for 2015?

The first chart below shows the perambulations of the oil price from the bottom on December 24, 2008 to June 1, 2009. The second chart shows the oil price movement from late January 2015 to the present (May 1). Note that the first chart shows six months, the second chart four, so they do not exactly align.



In both cases, there was a big rally off the lows (December 24, 2009 and January 29, 2015), with rallies failing over the next month to surmount the level achieved in the first week's big rally, then a retest and brief penetration of the lows about six and a half weeks from the original low (February 12, 2009 and March 17, 2015). At that point a rally begins that over the next six weeks sends the price through resistance and up to a new level. Note that the new level achieved is about five or six dollars above the previous resistance (from c. 49-50 to c. 54-55 in 2009, from about 54 to 60 today).

If the past is prologue, we can expect WTIC to meander in May 2015 in the sort of way it meandered from late March to late April in 2009. That is, it would probe support on the downside, sufficiently so to trigger stops, but without breaking through for more than a few hours, followed by rallies that probe resistance on the upside, but which also fail to break resistance (60) over the next month.

The next chart gives a closer look at the price action from March 20 to May 1 in 2009. From the highs to the lows is around 6 to 7 dollars.


The next chart shows the approximate range (from 60 to around 53.5) of the price action I expect over the next month. Historical precedent suggests that the oil bulls will have to wait till June 2015 for the surge above 60, and that bears will have some opportunity over the next month, but they shouldn't get too greedy. That is my (educated) guess.


One should note that there are many differences between the overall financial and energy context in early 2009 and early 2015. The oil bottom occurred about a week after the stock market low on March 6, 2009, when it was apparent that the world economy was experiencing a deep recession (thus crushing oil demand). There is nothing like that economic backdrop today, and still the oil price has recovered (from $42 to $59). On the other hand, the Saudis were attempting to support the price in early 2009, and now they are attempting to suppress it. Despite these differences in context, it is remarkable that the first three months after the initial lows of late 2008 and early 2015 have followed a similar pattern.

Just for the hell of it, two more charts that show the ratio between the Brent price of oil and Euros in 2008-09 and 2014-15. In neither instance were the initial lows (of late-December 2008 and mid- January 2015) retested.



Finally, for a broader perspective, here's West Texas Intermediate from May 1, 2008 to May 1, 2010.




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