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Brent ETF: The Better Oil Futures Play


Crude oil prices are beginning to burn up in anticipation of winter demand. However, investors could consider a Brent oil exchange traded fund as the discount between West Texas Intermediate and Brent widens to the most in seven months.

WTI and Brent crude oil futures both gained about 1.1% Wednesday, with WTI trading around $94.1 per barrel and Brent hovering around $107 per barrel.

The United States Brent Oil Fund (BNO) , which tracks the Brent crude oil benchmark, gained 1.3% Wednesday while the United States Oil Fund (USO) , which tracks front-month West Texas Intermediate crude oil, was up 1.1%. Over the past three months, BNO was 0.3% higher, compared to the 10.9% decline in USO.

Brent crude has been outperforming on continued protests in Libya disrupted production from the country’s 120,000 barrel-a-day Zawiya refinery and fresh attacks in Iraq, reports Lananh Nguyen for Bloomberg.

“The Middle East continues to add a premium to oil prices, emanating either from uncertainty and attacks in Iraq or reduced supplies from Libya,” Abhishek Deshpande, an analyst at Natixis.

Market observers don’t believe the Libya-induced premium will lift anytime soon.

“There are still concerns over Libya as protests get more violent and the government is losing its grip,” Andrey Kryuchenkov, an analyst at VTB Capital, said in the article. “It does not look like they will resolve anything until next year.”

Meanwhile, tension between Iran and the West has also fueled volatility in Brent prices.

“As long as there are protests in Libya and no resolution to the dispute between Iran and the West, Brent is going to have a bid while WTI lags,” Addison Armstrong, director of market research at Tradition Energy, said in a separate Bloomberg article.

In contrast, WTI prices have plummeted as the U.S. experiences an oil boom on shale. The U.S. is expected to surpass Russia and Saudi Arabia as the world’s top oil producer by 2015, reports Grant Smith for Bloomberg. [WTI Linked ETF Slips to Four-Month Low on U.S. Oil Boom]

United States Brent Oil Fund

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Max Chen contributed to this article.