Forecast came true

Crude oil headed for a u-shaped recovery
12 february 2015

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Crude oil has fallen 60% since the middle of 2014.

Crude oil’s relentless downward spiral may soon be over, but its glory days appear to be in the past.

“In our view, the recent spike in prices and increase in volatility offer further evidence that oil markets are approaching a trough,” John Normand, head of foreign exchange, commodities and international rates research at J.P. Morgan, said in a report.

“Call it a u-shaped profile, in lowercase, since prices would remain near their lowest level in a decade and substantially below the $100 average of the past five years.”

Brent futures are projected to fall to a low of $38 in March and then climb to $58 in the fourth quarter, he said. Brent for April delivery LCOJ5, +2.56% fell 1.9% to $56.37 on Wednesday.

The blame for the bearish oil market can be laid squarely on a supply glut. But progressively anemic demand in major economies, notably China, Russia and Brazil, is further aggravating the situation.

NYMEX, CFTC, J.P., Morgan Commodities Research

All markets have cycles and crude oil is no exception. But this collapse in oil prices, according to Normand, is different from other crashes.

“The magnitude and volatility of price declines since last summer have been extraordinary and associated historically with recessions or even greater supply surges.”

For instance, the 60% drop in crude prices since the middle of 2014 to January has not benefited the global economy in the way expected with growth forecasts lower. And the absence of inflation, and in some cases fears about deflation, has prompted central banks to take a more accommodative stance.

“When history is written on this oil price crash, it will not fit easily alongside any other of the past 45 years if judged by its context or financial market repercussions,” Normand said.

The fall in oil prices, in theory, is a boon for risky assets. But given that this crash is a deviant and central banks are gearing up to battle deflation, Normand recommends investors focus on “safe” yields such as U.S. Treasurys and U.K. bonds versus euro and emerging market debt.

There is room for equities in this investment portfolio, he said. But the emphasis should be on global cyclical play such as consumer discretionary stocks.

Sue Chang 

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Crude oil headed for a u-shaped recovery

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Forecast came true

“In our view, the recent spike in prices and increase in volatility offer further evidence that oil markets are approaching a trough,” John Normand, head of foreign exchange, commodities and international rates research at J.P. Morgan, said in a report. “Call it a u-shaped profile, in lowercase, since prices would remain near their lowest level in a decade and substantially below the $100 average of the past five years.”