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Oil and Gasoline Price Uncertainties
The continuous light crude oil contract hit a record high at $70.85 a barrel, while unleaded gasoline futures climbed 50% or $1 a gallon on Tuesday. However, Oil closed the week at $67.57 a barrel, while Gasoline ended the week up 15%. There are still uncertainties about the extent of disruption to oil and gasoline in the Gulf over the next few weeks or months caused by Hurricane Katrina. However, many forces are limiting oil and gasoline prices.
The summer driving season ends after Labor Day. President Bush urged Americans to save gas. Many Americans have canceled their driving plans for Labor Day weekend, due to soaring retail gasoline prices. There were thousands of complaints about price gouging at gas stations last week. European governments are shipping oil and refined products to the United States The US government has opened the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to oil companies and suspended restrictions on regional gasoline standards. The strong US economic expansion is slowing and could continue to slow in the coming months.
Oil and gasoline may have hit short-term highs on Tuesday, while it looks like oil stocks hit “blown” highs (as opposed to sellouts) on Wednesday and Thursday. Therefore, oil inventories could be in a volatile range over the next few weeks, as well as the stock market in general.
The first chart below is an OIH weekly chart. Last week, OIH, an oil ETF (i.e. a basket of oil stocks) was trading between 112 and 122. I suspect that the volatile trading range will continue, while oil will remain in the $60. OIH has major resistance at the 120 lows and major support at the 110 lows. So there could be great opportunities to trade OIH options (or options on other oil stocks) next week.
The second chart is an SPX daily chart. There is significant short-term support around 1200 (i.e. psychological support, 200-day MA and parabolic SAR buy signal). Last week, 1,225 were resistance. If SPX holds 1225, it can trade down to 1245 (recent high) and 1253 (multi-year Fibonacci level). However, SPX has open gaps at 1,174, 1,143, and 1,138.
The September options expire in two weeks. Some current Max Pain expiries in September are: SPX 1,220 with the value of calls 150% higher than the value of puts (which is bearish, as the put/call is a contrarian indicator). SPX closed at 1,218. OEX 565 with the value of the put options 130% higher than the value of the call options (which is bullish). OEX closed just over 563. QQQQ 39 with the value of puts 15% higher than the value of calls. QQQQ closed at 38 3/4. Volatility normally picks up two weeks before options expire.
Next week’s economic reports are: Monday: None (market closed for Labor Day), Tuesday: Productivity Revised and Fed Beige Book, Wednesday: Unemployment Claims and Wholesale Inventories, and Friday: Export Prices and imports. Additionally, in September, the FOMC meeting, earnings warnings and end-of-quarter showcases are expected to influence the market.
Uncertainty in oil and gasoline prices and economic data caused by Hurricane Katrina is expected to contribute to volatility over the next two weeks. The stock market may continue to consolidate, in the near term, until earnings warning season in late September and third-quarter earnings in October.
Charts available in the Indices Market Overview section of the PeakTrader.com Forum.
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