Today (Monday), U.S. oil futures hit a five-month high on fallout from the Ukraine conflict, further supported by inclement weather across the United States.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX), West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude for delivery in April rose to a session high of $104.65 a barrel, the highest since Sept. 23.
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Best Oil Stocks to Buy as U.S. Jumps to World's Top Oil Producer
It's time to look at oil stocks to buy as the United States gets ready to surpass the world's biggest oil producers.
Earlier this month, the International Energy Agency (IEA) reported that the United States will jump past both Russia and Saudi Arabia as the world's top oil producer by 2015.
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How to Hedge Oil Prices in Volatile Markets
Welcome to the new pricing environment.
We're already started to see kneejerk reactions to short-term indicators last Friday.
A better than expected jobs report sent crude oil prices higher immediately. The figure was encouraging but not a barnburner. Of course, some massive upward revisions for the previous two months hardly hurt either.
Some of this is the result of investors still gun shy after a massive recession. Now we have certainly had a very nice bull market run and the prospects of another meltdown any time soon are negligible.
Nonetheless, the new drivers of oil prices provide little chance for real dynamics to work themselves out. This is all about reaction. Picture it as the newest investor version of smoke and mirrors.
Today's prospects are very good for the oil sector. Natural gas has pulled back from some heavy gains. Major losses earlier this week were erased on Friday. There is a range forming, and it is likely to remain absent any unexpected developments (largely geopolitical at this point).
Demand will increase as we move into the summer; global levels will rise quicker than domestic in the U.S. or Western Europe. That will provide some upward pressure on oil prices.
Remember as well that, while certain region such as the U.S. have a new largess in unconventional (tight or shale) oil, the full volume of that new production will be more expensive to bring on line. That means the additional extraction will not decrease the overall price.
However, the real question is how to make money if trading is in a narrow range for the near term.
You need to develop a new hedging strategy. Here's how...
Frack or Fail: Is It Time For California's Liberals to Go?
Editor's Note: California is in a LOT of trouble financially. Cities are going under and the state can't balance its budget. It also has almost half a trillion in state pensions to fund and revenue is drying up.
But there is one way out: Tap the largest oil and gas play in the Lower 48.
The question is whether this left-leaning state crowded with special interests like the Sierra Club will actually let oil services companies begin to start fracking on state land.
In our inaugural Money Morning Fight Club brawl, Frank Marchant and Garrett Baldwin square off on this contentious issue. The best part is we are asking you to turn in your scorecard and pick the winner at the end.
So let's get ready to rumble...
Buy, Sell or Hold: Strong Oil Prices Make Apache Corp. a Good Bet
In fact, since April 2011 Apache shares are down by 44%. Compared to its peers, that makes Apache what's known as a "laggard."
But there is more here than meets the eye, since it is very hard to find anything to nit-pick when it comes to their financials.
Fundamentally speaking, the company seems on solid ground, which is why I'm willing to buy Apache shares.
In fact, even after an $18 billion flurry of acquisitions over the last couple of years, Apache's balance sheet still remains strong while adding new layers of growth potential.
And as one of the world's largest independent energy companies, Apache continues to report healthy cash flows, strong profit margins, and has a forecasted sales growth of 8.1% for 2013.
So why haven't investors been willing to buy, even when the company appears to be doing all the right things?
The answer is two-fold: Oil prices and the skittish political situation hovering over their oil rigs in Egypt.
Australia Shale Oil Discovery Continues the Country's "Lucky" Streak
Investors are well aware of the shale oil revolution in the United States. But the "revolution" does not end here; it is spreading globally to countries as diverse as China and Poland.
There is one country in particular though that may experience circumstances similar to the United States, if not greater.
I'm talking about Australia, which has often been called "The Lucky Country." That description was first penned in 1964 by Donald Horne and he actually meant it negatively at the time.
But in recent decades, the term has been given a positive spin thanks to Australia's abundance of natural resources and its geographical location near the world's biggest consumer of commodities - China.
And Australia may have struck luck again thanks to the recent announcement of a massive shale oil discovery.
How China and Saudi Arabia Mean You Should Bet on Higher Oil Prices
As Money Morning Global Energy Strategist Dr. Kent Moors pointed out not long ago, the sky is not falling on oil prices despite what the doomsayers believe.
There are two crucial countries that are behind the recent rise in oil prices: China and Saudi Arabia.
And if these two nations keep on their current path, it will mean one thing...
Even higher oil prices in 2013. Here's why.
Why Oil Prices Could Soar 40% by Summer
Oil prices have continued their upward move that began at the end of 2012, gaining over 8% in the past month.
Now, an oil analyst with Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (NYSE: GS) predicts Brent crude could soar much higher in the next few months.
Jeff Currie, GS's head of commodity research, said he wouldn't be surprised "if we woke up in summer and oil cost $150" per barrel.
That would be a 35% gain from Brent's recent price of $111.
Using the narrowing spread between the Brent price and that of West Texas Intermediate (WTI), at $95, Currie's forecast implies a 40% increase in WTI prices.
And there are many reasons oil could hit those highs by summer, or even sooner.
Play the Bakken Oil Boom Like Buffett
Many investors have heard of the Bakken oil field in North Dakota and Montana, but most are unaware of how important this formation is becoming to the U.S. economy.
More germane to investors is the fact that there is still a lot of money to be made from Bakken oil in the months and years ahead.
Just ask Warren Buffett.
He spotted the potential of Bakken oil well ahead of most and bought a non-energy company that would benefit greatly from the boom. Three years ago he bought Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway Co. for $26 billion.
That railroad is now one of the main beneficiaries of the Bakken oil boom. (And people thought he just had always wanted to own a train set!)
"We're the 1,000-pound gorilla in the oil markets," BNSF CEO Matt Rose told Bloomberg News. "Crude by rail is going to be really strong for us. It's been a real benefit to us to replace some of that lost coal business."
The Bakken oil formation isn't just an investing opportunity; it's transforming the U.S. energy landscape.
Where Oil Prices Are Headed In the Face of the Fiscal Cliff
You have heard all the stories of what will happen when the U.S. economy falls over the fiscal cliff.
As I write this, it appears that will happen--at least on paper.
Of course, it will take some time for the tax increases to kick in, while the automatic spending cuts may take a month or longer.
That may make it easier for some Members of Congress to act. Since the taxes will have technically increased, it will be easier for them to vote for an artificial tax cut.
I consider this the pinnacle of absurdity.
Subjecting most Americans to this charade-making them vulnerable to cuts in paychecks, dividends, and social security benefits merely to make some political brownie points-is the height of travesty.
But here we are.
Even if there is a this weekend or Monday, nobody will know what that means for several weeks. This will drag the drama on for a while longer as the precocious children inside the Beltway refuse to play on the same ball field.
Now we all know how this will end. There will be a stopgap measure rather quickly (probably around the time most receive that first paycheck of the New Year) to prolong the process into the first quarter - right into yet another showdown on increasing the debt ceiling.
Isn't there anybody else out there as sick of this as I am?
But in the end, we are interested in what the shenanigans mean for the energy sector.
Oddly enough, gas and oil prices have acted as if the cliff were an ant hill.
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