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What Caused the Recent Drop in Oil Prices? Goldman Trader Chimes In

  • The decline is seen as a "catch-up" to weaker physical markets post-WTI options expiration and reduction in Middle East risk premium.
  • Fundamental indicators like weak margins, continuous OPEC exports, and weaker spread signals contributed to the price drop.
  • Goldman Sachs' models suggest continued selling by CTAs and maintain that OPEC is likely to keep Brent within an $80-$100 range.

Tons of questions on the weakness in Crude – Thoughts from our trading desk: believe the move is more of a "catch-up" to weaker physical markets as we moved past WTI options expiration yesterday & as Middle East risk premium has now come out of the market in our view.

Bigger picture:

  • Margins have remained weak for a while
  • OPEC continues to export
  • Spreads & DFLs have been signaling weaker fundamentals for several days now

Brent breaking through the 200dma…approaching oversold levels (RSI 32.7)…

  • On the vol front, it's interesting to note that front-end gamma is well bid on this selloff which is a re-engagement of the negative spot/vol correlation we saw from late September until the early October Israeli attacks flipped that abruptly. We're also seeing put skew rally sharply here with front-end 25d RR's rapidly approaching the September wides of ~5v for puts.) Options desk think there is some gamma around $75 from sov hedging/other prod strikes and worth noting PMI moved their OSP lower yesterday which brings strikes closer to the money.
  • We haven't seen too much fresh on the fundamental side. There are some thoughts that an Iraq flows resolution is imminent, but nothing confirmed and that doesn't warrant a sell off of this magnitude.
  • Our models have CTA selling continuing and timing of the move was around the time that their flow normally ramps up.
  • Fitting that GIR Published their 2024 Outlook today: “We believe that OPEC will ensure Brent in a $80-$100 range by leveraging its pricing power, with a $80 floor from the OPEC put, and a $100 ceiling from spare capacity.” (link)

From Goldman floor trader Michael Nocerino via Zerohedge.com 

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