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Will OPEC Surprise Markets With Another Thanksgiving Day Announcement?
Stocks continue to new highs today. But with the holiday approaching, the big focus is oil. It was two years ago on Thanksgiving day evening that the Saudis blocked a move by their fellow OPEC members to cut production, to put a floor under oil prices around $70. Oil plunged in a thin market and never looked back.
Of course, we traded as low as $26 earlier this year. That proved to be the bottom in that OPEC rigged oil price bust, which was intended to crush the competitive U.S. shale industry.
It worked. The emerging shale industry was brought to its knees and we’ve seen plenty of bankruptcies as a result. But OPEC countries have been hurt badly too, taking a huge hit to their oil revenues. That put some heavily oil dependent economies on default watch. So it finally became clear that cheap oil was a big net negative, not just for the U.S. economy, but for the global economy. The risk of continued fallout in the oil industry was a direct threat to the financial system and, therefore, a risk to another global economic crisis.
With that, we head into next week’s official OPEC meeting with expectations set for a first production cut in eight years. And we have the below chart, which would suggest that we could see oil back in the $70 area next year.
In 1986, the mere hint of an OPEC policy move sent oil up 50% in just 24 hours. They’ve more than hinted this time around, but the markets remain skeptical. That skepticism should serve to exacerbate the speed and magnitude of a move higher if they follow through.