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OPEC Lifts Production in February

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End of Year Oil Summary and Outlook for 2024

It is that time of year again, when the mind of every trader, investor, and analyst turns to what the next year will bring. In late December even those like me, people whose trades usually have time horizons measured in hours or days at most, peer into our crystal balls and try to predict where things will be a year from now. In some ways, that may seem like a bit of a pointless exercise, but stepping back and formulating a long-term view and strategy is never a bad thing. It encourages a rational, dispassionate look at overall circumstances. Providing you understand that new information can and usually will change your view, that can be helpful to fall back on when things start flying around.

Ironically, in order to look forward, though, you first have to look back. In this context, I am not talking about analyzing the chart to find relevant levels, although that should be done as a matter of course, but rather looking at long-term trends and what caused them.

The most significant moves in 2023 were the run up to above $90 and the subsequent drop back to below $70 that we saw in the second half of the year. That kind of volatility is not unusual in oil, but what was interesting this time was that those moves didn’t necessarily follow conventional wisdom about economic conditions and prospects. That becomes clear when you look at a chart comparing the S&P 500 tracking ETF, SPY, the blue line below, with USO, the green line, which tracks WTI…

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