Oil Trades for Almost Any Time Frame

06/11/2012 12:30 pm EST

Focus: COMMODITIES

Here are several inverse ETFs designed to profit while oil declines, some to buy for the eventual recovery, and eight dates in June when major volatility will befall the oil markets, notes Bristol Voss, contributor to Minyanville.com.

After falling 22% in the month of May, the US benchmark West Texas Intermediate (or WTI) crude oil broke $90/barrel at the end of the month for the first time since October, which was the sharpest monthly drop since 2008. At the time of this article, WTI was trading at $85.02/barrel.

Across the pond, the European benchmark Brent crude is at a 13-year low, below $100/barrel for the first time since October 2011, with 17% of that decline happening since May. At the time of this article, it’s trading at $97.63/barrel, near a 13-year low.

Short-Term Trading Opportunities

Just as there are funds that are set up to move with the price of crude oil, there are those set up to move against it. Normally, these funds take short positions in the same companies at the same weight as the funds set up with long positions.

The United States Short Oil Fund (DNO) is designed to move in the opposite direction of the United States Oil Fund (USO), which moves with light sweet crude oil prices. Indeed, at the time of this article, DNO is up 1.66% while USO is down 1.45%.

Similarly, the ProShares Short Oil & Gas ETF (DDG) is designed to move opposite to iShares Dow Jones US Energy Sector Index Fund (IYE), which holds large positions in Exxon Mobil (XOM) and Chevron (CVX). At the time of this article, DDG is up 1.19% and IYE is down 1.26%.

Another inverse ETF to consider is the ProShares UltraShort DJ-UBS Crude Oil (SCO). In large part, it is the opposite of another fund, ProShares DJ-UBS Crude Oil (UCO), but with a twist: it aims to produce a daily return 200% more than the equivalent percentage drop in oil. At the time of this article, SCO is up 1.59% and UCO is down 2.93%.

Mid-Term Trading Opportunities

The transportation sector has the most to gain from a sustained low in oil prices. Rarely do petroleum-fueled industries such as trucking, airlines, and shipping benefit from a short-term drop. This is mainly because they are already locked into long-term contracts with suppliers and don’t usually have the storage or inclination to scoop up barrels on the spot market.

However, because their contracts are usually based on some component of the stock market (an average over X period of time), the benefits of a drop in oil will eventually show up.

By that reasoning, iShares Dow Jones Transportation Average Index Fund (IYT) stands to benefit from mostly lower oil prices. It has shares in 21 stocks, including truckers, airlines, and marine shippers. IYT was up 45% at the time of this article.

Fasten Your Seatbelts and Keep an Eye on These Dates

Expect a really, really bumpy ride mid-June. Oil futures notoriously follow headlines and sentiment and there are a boatload of releases and events that will impact prices. On June 12, OPEC publishes its monthly oil market report and the US Department of Energy (DOE) releases its monthly short-term energy outlook. The following day, the International Energy Agency (IEA) issues its monthly oil market report, the EU Economic Summit commences, and the DOE releases weekly US petroleum inventory data for the previous week. On June 14, OPEC meets in Vienna.

Expect volatility in the Brent spot price, specifically on June 13-14, the day before and the day the July Brent crude oil futures expire. For WTI, the day to watch is June 15, when options on the NYMEX July WTI crude oil futures expire.

Of course, expect oil to reflect the outcome of the Greek elections on June 17. Following that international development, expect volatility on June 19-20, the day before and the day the NYMEX July WTI futures expire.

By Bristol Voss, contributor, Minyanville.com

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