As we roll into 2018, analysts and investors are more optimistic that the oil market will further tighten next year and support higher oil prices, but rising U.S. shale production will likely cap any significant price gains.
On the demand side, expectations are that global economic growth will support solid oil demand growth. On the supply side, Venezuela’s dire situation, possible new sanctions on Iran, and increased tension in the Middle East mostly with the Saudi-Iran issues and the Iraq-Kurdistan standoff may take more barrels off the market than OPEC and friends plan, and send geopolitical jitters through the oil market.
However, according to energy policy expert Michael Lynch, there remain three potential events in the markets that could send oil prices tumbling. These include a large correction in the U.S. stock market that could spread to a sell-off in commodities; one of the OPEC members or Russia breaking away from the unusually strong compliance to the cuts we have seen so far; and U.S. oil production rising so much as to make OPEC see it as a threat to its long-term oil market share.
In markets, there are already some signs that we may be seeing some bubbles, Bitcoin being the most likely candidate, according to Lynch. In addition, the price to earnings ratio of the S&P 500 index is now over 25, well above the mean historical average of just over 15.
Last week, Fed Chair Janet Yellen said, referring to the high valuation in some asset classes, “the fact that those valuations are high doesn’t mean that they are necessarily overvalued.” According to VTB Capital’s Global Macro Strategist Neil MacKinnon, the ultra-low volatility in U.S. equities this year is “very vulnerable” to shocks, and current stability could actually bring future instability.
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