Crude Carnage

May WTI futures are off almost 35% since Friday’s close.  This drops it below the 17.12 target we first identified in March 2019 when, at 59.32, CL had completed a rising wedge and tagged multiple channel lines.

Members might recall the 17.12 target was originally set for April 2023 in keeping with a March 2019 cycle study [see: Macro Factor Cycles and Regime Shifts.] The chart patterns and Fib levels fit nicely with the concept of a recurring 2600-day cycle for significant lows.We’ve reiterated the 17.12 target many times, including last December as CL finished on a high note after plunging 45% in the wake of Jamal Khashoggi’s Oct 2018 murder (when the US achieved maximum leverage over the Saudis – see: Coincidences and Consequences.) The last significant bounce accommodated both the Aramco IPO and the year-end equity ramp.

Oil has been a favorite tool of not only the Saudis but also central bankers and politicians.  In fact, understanding the relationship between oil/gas and inflation, interest rates and equity valuations has made it possible to accurately forecast most of its major moves over the years.

At times, this has meant ignoring the frequently misleading supply/demand data, OPEC deliberations, and presidential tweets and focusing instead on where central bankers needed oil/gas to go in order to achieve a particular inflation and interest rate goals.

As interest rates rose over the past few years, for instance, it became obvious that inflation would need to moderate to relieve the building budgetary pressure.

One major theme on which we’ve focused since calling the top on interest rates in October 2018 [see: Suddenly Interest Rates Matter] has been the relationship between CPI and the YoY delta in gas prices. By “managing” the price of RBOB, CPI and, thus, interest rates could be managed higher or lower as needed.This was a very reliable theme for most of 2018, 2019, and early 2020 – when the focus shifted to oil’s strong correlation to stock prices.

Oil has long been a major factor in triggering algos to bid up stocks. So, when oil’s major channel from 2016 broke down in February, we knew stocks were in deep trouble.

With CL dropping through its 2001 lows and approaching its 1998 lows, what might we expect from oil and what are the implications for stocks? As we discussed last week:

A drop through 19.27 would be reason enough to revert to short with 17.12 and 10.65 the only support between here and zero.

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