A pullback in oil prices is giving investors a taste of what might come if the commodity's 18-month bull market ends. High oil prices hurt...
A pullback in oil prices is giving investors a taste of what might come if the commodity’s 18-month bull market ends.
High oil prices hurt in two ways: They boost shipping, transportation, electricity and other costs for businesses. At the same time, high gasoline and home-energy costs eat into discretionary spending by consumers.
Oil’s 11.2 percent dip last week sent the S&P consumer discretionary sector up 6.5 percent, while the prospect of lower gas prices sent automotive shares up 19.1 percent, notes Barrington Research Associates analyst Alexander Paris. Energy stocks fell 5.6 percent.
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In weeks when oil prices rose in the past year, JPMorgan Securities analyst Thomas J. Lee found energy stocks rose 73 percent of the time. Financials moved down 63 percent of the time, less than the 54 percent for the broad market.
“Logically, financials react negatively to oil prices when the economy is contracting,” Lee says. “After all, higher oil represents an additional burden on a more vulnerable economy at that time.”
Airlines also lose when oil gains, because fuel is a huge cost for the industry. So do household products and transportation shares, Lee says.
Metals and mining companies tend to move up as oil climbs, though not as much as energy shares, notes Lee.
Oil prices fell as the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries cut its outlook for world demand and predicted capacity would rise by 5 million barrels a day by 2012. Global Insight chief economist Nariman Behravesh expects oil to stay around $125 to $130 a barrel for six months. But he notes geopolitical factors and weather disruptions could cause a price spike.