Oil futures suffered a historic drop recently as traders struggled to liquidate their May futures contracts. At one point, oil prices fell to double-digit negatives for the first time ever in history. Oil production continues to outpace demand and no one is sure when demand will recover to pre-COVID-19 levels.
For now, the summer is looking especially bearish.
Oil Continues to Tumble Down
At the time of writing, oil futures for June are trading under $13 according to the CME. Futures for July are now under $20. There is currently no indication that these prices will recover anytime soon.
However, some still believe that ‘fortunes will be made’ once demand rises back to pre-Coronavirus levels. Betting on the short-term, though, remains a serious gamble. It could take months for demand to tick upwards again.
If this drags on for longer, depressed demand will likely hit sectors beyond just oil — and many have been cautioning that the farming sector could be next. Some analysts have even argued that the reopening of the economy may be a ‘sell the news’ event because consumer spending is still declining. Profitability for businesses is expected to be poor for the remainder of the year.
Financial Markets Remain Unshaken
Despite the worrying macroeconomic indicators, financial markets remain positive. The S&P 500 traded higher yesterday, up 1.47% on the daily. Bitcoin has also stayed strong and is currently trading above $7,700.
However, many are pointing to the fact that financial markets appear to be disconnected from the real economy. Some veteran traders see the current rebound similar to 1929, however Wall St. remains unconvinced.
For now, depressed oil prices remain a worrying sign. Oil is the ‘lifeblood’ of global trade and is an acute indicator that we should be concerned. Bitcoin and mainstream financial markets remain strong in spite of this, but we will have to see how the next few months play out. If depressed demand continues through the summer, financial markets will likely be forced to reckon with the economic reality.