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Saturday, May 17, 2008

Crude Oil, the Dollar & Gold -- A Disconnect

MrKen wonders when crude oil will correct and move lower. Is crude a "bubble" or not? In Friday's Wall Street Journal ((5/16/08)--"Bernanke's Bubble Laboratory"--the charts of the Nasdaq Composite (3/95-2002), Las Vegas Home Prices (8/01-2/08) & Crude Oil (6/03-present) are plotted on one graph. The chart of Oil and the Composite (which peaked in march 2000) look eerily similar. With the Fed sopping up excess liquidity recently, according to Barron's 'Up and Down Wall Street Daily' (5/16/08)by Randall Forsyth:

"The popular perception is that Bernanke has opened the floodgates. "The Fed is providing an extraordinary amount of liquidity," according to the head economist of a major bank.'

"The data, however, do not bear this out. The Fed itself actually has turned tight and growth in the money supply slowed from its breakneck pace in the past month. And, coincidentally, the dollar has pulled out of its nosedive and gold has pulled out of its ascent."

"...Specifically, the monetary base -- bank reserves plus currency, as measured by the St. Louis Fed -- contracted by 0.5% in April, according to calculations by Free Market Inc., a Chicago economic consultancy. Over the past three months, this measure of the Fed's own actions has grown at a mild 2.1% annual rate..."

--will crude oil soon follow the precious metals lower, despite bullish forecasts by Goldman, Sachs & UBS?

Kopin Tan writes in his column in this week's Barron's (5/19/08) "In Stocks, Summer Nonchalance Arrives Early"--

'...CRUDE OIL'S price tag isn't the only thing that's the subject of buzz; some of its recent relationships are also much talked about.'

'Take crude oil and gold, which have moved in lockstep over much of the past two years. Since mid-March, however, gold has pulled back more than 10%, partly as traders unwind their flight-to-safety trades while the credit crisis recedes. In contrast, oil has continued to climb, tacking on another 20% to an already impressive rally as the two commodities grow ever further apart.'

'Something unusual, too, is happening between crude oil and the dollar. These two have tended to move in opposite directions, and the dollar's weakening had in fact helped drive oil higher. Yet both have rallied over the past month.'

'If we expect these relationships to revert to their typical behavior, then crude's straying from the norm with both gold and the dollar suggests it may be well the errant one.'

'That has been true in the recent past. Bespoke Investment Group found just three instances since 1986 when oil has rallied 10% or more over a two-month period while gold fell by double-digit percentages. In the two months following such divergences, oil has declined two out of the three times to register an average loss of 22.5%. Gold, on the other hand, has rallied each time to post an average gain of 5.9%.'

'Exorbitant oil prices curb consumption and act as their own check, and few will be surprised if oil takes a breather after soaring nearly 150% over the past 16 months...'

Curtesy of
Barron's -

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