This article was originally published on ETFTrends.com.
Crude oil prices and oil-related ETFs have surged this year, but the energy market may be entering a period of seasonal weakness.
Year-to-date, the United States Oil Fund (USO) , which tracks West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures, advanced 18.3% and the United States Brent Oil Fund (BNO) , which tracks Brent crude oil futures, increased 19.5%.
WTI crude oil futures are now trading around $69.8 per barrel and Brent crude futures hovering around $79.4 per barrel.
The supply disruptions experienced earlier in the year have helped push up prices, but crude oil has since started trading within range. However, analysts warned of falling demand as we shift over to a seasonally weak period for the energy market.
Energy demand typically surges in the summer months on increased travel, with a strong U.S. economic engine supporting the overall market. However, the fall months are typically a weak period for crude oil, which typically sees a dip in consumption and a subsequent fall in prices, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Furthermore, many refiners also start their maintenance during this season, converting less oil and contributing to the overall demand weakness.
Oil Fall Off in Demand
The fall off in demand may have already started. Thursday's weekly government report revealed a combined 5 million barrel rise in gasoline and distillate prices, compared to an expected 3.6 million barrel rise in processed petro products for the week ended August 31.
“If you’re in a $65-$70 range when demand is at its all-time high, what happens when demand begins to fall off?” Stephen Schork, editor of the energy trading newsletter the Schork Report, told the WSJ.
Analysts further warned that trade tensions and weak global growth could also hit oil demand while further support the U.S. dollar, which would add additional pressure on commodity prices - USD-denominated commodities like oil will be more expensive for overseas buyers.
Traders looking to hedge against further falling oil prices have plenty of ETF options, including the ProShares UltraShort Bloomberg Crude Oil (SCO) , which tries to reflect the two times inverse or -200% daily performance of WTI crude oil, and DB Crude Oil Double Short ETN (DTO), which also follows a -200% performance of oil. Aggressive traders may look to the ProShares UltraPro 3x Short Crude Oil ETF (OILD) , which takes the -3x daily performance of the Bloomberg WTI Crude Oil Subindex, as well as the United States 3X Short Oil Fund (NYSEArca: USOD) , UBS ETRACS – ProShares Daily 3x Inverse Crude ETN (WTID) and VelocityShares 3x Inverse Crude (DWTI) .
For more information on the energy sector, visit our energy category.
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