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Crude Oil Prices Down As Market Frets Coronavirus Lockdown Hit

Crude Oil Prices Down As Market Frets Coronavirus Lockdown Hit

2020-03-23 07:15:00
David Cottle, Analyst
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Crude Oil and Gold Talking Points:

  • Crude prices remain close to lows not seen since 2002
  • No one knows exactly how coronavirus will hit demand, but its impact will be massive and lasting
  • Gold prices were steady but look biased lower

Crude oil prices remained close to eighteen-year lows on Monday as administrations all over the world extended lockdown procedures to try and stem the spread of the coronavirus outbreak which has already seen energy-demand forecasts cut to the bone.

The price of a barrel of crude has plummeted by 60% this year, the falls made worse by a price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia rooted in the two major exporters’ inability to agree about production cuts earlier this month. Current reductions from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies including Russia only run on until the end of March.

Now almost a third of Americans are under stay-home orders while New Zealand’s government has said that all non-essential businesses and services will be shut down, with various similar pronouncements being made around the world.

Unsurprisingly oil refiners are now slashing production, fearful that future demand will be severely limited by the outbreak. Goldman Sachs has reportedly estimated that the loss could run to eight million barrels per day.

Gold prices were steady, underpinned by broad haven demand but, as has been the case for weeks now also pressured by the possibility that shell-shocked investors will need to cash out of this haven market to cover cash needs elsewhere.

Prices have fallen sharply from the peaks close to $1700/ounce seen at the start of the months but support seems strong nevertheless at the $1450 psychological level. A lightly populated data schedule will keep the coronavirus story front and centre for the remainder of the trading day.

Crude Oil Technical Analysis

US Crude Oil, Monthly Chart

Barring a miracle March will mark a precipitous decline for the oil price, taking it back to lows unseen since 2002. Given the manifest pressures on the market which seem likely to intensify predictions as to where the fall might be arrested are extremely tricky, but the psychological $20/barrel support point seems to be providing a formidable barrier for the moment.

Even under current conditions investors and specialists seem to have trouble visualizing sub-$20 prices for any extended period. February 2016’s lows in the $27.57 area look like reasonable near-term resistance on the monthly chart, but the sort of sentiment revival needed to bring them back into view remains elusive.

Oil - US Crude MIXED
Data provided by
of clients are net long. of clients are net short.
Change in Longs Shorts OI
Daily -4% -5% -4%
Weekly -16% 69% -4%
What does it mean for price action?
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Gold Technical Analysis

Gold Prices, Daily Chart

Prices appear to have settled into a narrow daily chart range following a succession of steep falls in March. It might be counterintuitive to see an archetypal haven asset losing ground in a period of heightened uncertainty, but gold’s very rise up to the peaks seen earlier this month made it too tempting not to cash out for some.

The metal probably retains its bias lower and will likely do so unless the bulls can force the near-term pace back up through resistance at $1550/ounce. However, they seem to be making a fight of the psychological $1450 support region and their ability to hold above that into week and month end could be key. It certainly warrants watching as we move into another trading week.

Gold MIXED
Data provided by
of clients are net long. of clients are net short.
Change in Longs Shorts OI
Daily 1% 1% 1%
Weekly 14% 16% 14%
What does it mean for price action?
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Commodity Trading Resources

--- Written by David Cottle, DailyFX Research

Follow David on Twitter@DavidCottleFX or use the Comments section below to get in touch!

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