How to Trade Crude Oil

How to Trade Crude Oil

Crude oil is the world economy’s primary energy source, making it a very popular commodity to trade. A naturally occurring fossil fuel, it can be refined into various products like gasoline (petrol), diesel, lubricants, wax and other petrochemicals. It is highly demanded, traded in volume, and extremely liquid. Oil trading therefore involves tight spreads, clear chart patterns, and high volatility.

Brent crude is the world’s benchmark for oil with almost two thirds of oil contracts traded being Brent oil. WTI is America’s benchmark oil, it is a slightly sweeter and lighter oil compared to Brent.

WTI trades on CME Globex: Sunday – Friday, 6:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. (with an hour break from 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m each day) while Brent trades on ICE: Sunday – Friday – 7:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

CRUDE OIL TRADING BASICS: WHAT AFFECTS PRICE MOVEMENTS?

When trading oil, the two major focal points is supply and demand. Whether there was an economic report like a news event or press release or tensions in the Middle East, the two factors that will be taken into consideration is how supply and demand is affected, because this will affect the price.

Supply Factors

  • Outages or maintenance in key refineries around the globe, whether it’s the Forties pipeline in the North Sea or the Port Arthur refinery in Texas, must be monitored because of the effect it can have on the supply of oil. War in the Middle East leads to concerns about supply. For example, when the Libyan Civil war began in 2011, prices had seen a 25% rise from in the space of a couple of months.
  • OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) production cuts or extensions lead to changes in the price of oil. For example, back in 2016 when the cartel had announced their decision to curb global supply by 1.9%, the price of oil has risen from $44/bbl to as much as $80/bbl.
  • Oil Suppliers: Similarly, with understanding the importance of OPEC, it is also worth knowing who the top global oil suppliers are.

Demand Factors

  • Seasonality: Hot summers can lead to increased activity and higher oil consumption. Cold winters cause people to consume more oil products to heat their houses.
  • Oil Consumers: The largest consumers of oil have typically been developed nations such as the U.S. and European countries. However, in recent times there has been a surge in oil consumption in Asian countries, namely China and Japan. As such, it is important for traders to pay attention to the level of demand from these nations, alongside their economic performance. Any slowdown could affect oil prices and demand may fall.

HOW TO TRADE OIL: TOP TIPS AND STRATEGIES

Expert oil traders generally follow a strategy. They will understand the fundamental factors that affect the price of oil and use a trading strategy that suits their trading style. Each trading strategy is different, risk management is an important component to consistent trading, like the effective use of leverage and avoiding top trading mistakes.

A comprehensive crude oil trading strategy could include:

  1. Fundamental Analysis
  2. Technical Analysis
  3. Risk Management

Once a trader understands the fundamental supply and demand factors that affect the price of oil, he/she can look for entries into the market using technical analysis. Then, when a buy or sell signal has been identified using technical analysis, the trader can implement the proper risk management techniques.

Trading via futures and options

Buying futures and options, a trader must use the right exchange for the oil benchmark he/she wants to trade. Most exchanges have criteria for who is allowed trade on them, so the majority of futures speculation is undertaken by professionals instead of individuals.

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Hope this helps,

Alexander Soares

 

 


Also published on Medium.