Article Index

Oil

Soaring Lumber Prices and Strong D.R. Horton Report May Not Signal an Immediate Rebound in Housing Stocks

Crude oil, gold, steel and commodity stocks have all taken it on the chin to varying degrees so far this year.

But not every commodity has suffered this same tough fate. In fact, there's even been a major standout. It's a commodity that most investors rarely think about.

I'm talking about lumber.

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Ghana May Kill Exxon's $4 Billion Oil Deal

The government of Ghana may kill Exxon Mobile Corp.'s (NYSE: XOM) plans to buy a $4 billion stake in a giant offshore oil discovery from Kosmos Energy LLC. The move could help China expand its growing presence in the region through its state-owned oil company China National Offshore Oil Corp. (NYSE ADR: CEO).

Ghanaian Energy Minister Joe Oteng-Adjei sent a letter to Exxon last week informing the company that the government wouldn't approve the deal with Kosmos. The letter said the government is "unable to support an Exxon Mobil acquisition of Kosmos's Ghana assets," according to a copy reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

The government said Dallas-based Kosmos had shared critical information about the field with potential buyers without its permission. Ghana also said Kosmos had left Ghana's state-run oil company, Ghana National Petroleum Corp. (GNPC) out of discussions held to determine how the field should be developed.

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Oil Prices Set to Surge to $90 a Barrel by Midyear, Retest Record High in 2011

In its 2010 forecast series, Money Morning predicted the price of oil would reach $100 a barrel by the end of the year. And while crude prices stalled in January, a growing body of evidence suggests that call may not be far off.

Oil prices rose above $80 a barrel for the first time ever on Sept. 13, 2007. From there they jumped 84% to $147 a barrel in July 2008. Then, in 2009, they surged more than 133% from a low of $34.03 a barrel in February to $79.39 a barrel at the end of December.

The price of crude again topped out above the $80 a barrel mark in early January, but has since slid back down to about $75 a barrel. However, some analysts believe that this is just period of temporary cooling before prices reignite and soar to $90 by midyear, and as high as $200 a barrel by 2012.

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What Do Oil, Gold and Orange Juice Have in Common? Some Hefty Possible Profits

"So what do you expect from the commodity markets in 2010?" If I had a dollar for every time I've been asked this question over the past few weeks, I'd be able to buy myself an ounce of gold. But allow me to tell you the same thing that I've told my friends and colleagues: […]

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Will China Supersede Saudi Arabia as the Key to U.S. Oil Prices?

I bought a Toyota Prius last Saturday.

The signs are everywhere that oil is headed for stratospheric highs - $200, $250 or even $300 a barrel. Some of these signs are just plain obvious. But even the subtle indicators are telling us that some very expensive energy costs headed our way.

Let me tell you about one such indicator that I came across over the New Year holiday. A tiny news item said that Saudi Arabian oil concern Aramco is abandoning a lease on Caribbean oil storage, and further reported that PetroChina Co. Ltd. (NYSE ADR: PTR) is moving in to take Aramco's place.

Most investors here in the West - if they even read the item - would've dismissed it as just another minor business transaction, one among the thousands that take place each day. But this particular deal was much more than that. It's another indication of China's continued global emergence. And it also underscores this country's relegation to the growing legion of "former" world powers that have been eviscerated by the financial crisis that they created.

In case you missed the story, let me share the details, and then explain what I believe those details actually mean.

To see why China is the "new" Saudi Arabia, read on...

Wall Street Scrambles its "Contango Convoy" to Capitalize on Higher Oil Demand

A 26-mile-long line of idled oil tankers, enough to blockade the English Channel, are firing up their engines and jockeying for position in a race to cash in on the bone-chilling deep-freeze plaguing the North America, Europe, and Asia.

The supertankers, each of which can hold over 2 million barrels of oil, are steaming "all ahead full" to deliver their stores of crude, heating oil and other distillates to the United States.

Their clients - which include several huge Wall Street investment firms - are eager to unwind what's become known as the oil storage trade.

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The New Oil Index is About to Create Even More Opportunity for Investors

Speculators in New York won't be calling the shots anymore. Not in oil, anyway.

The way we price it. The places we trade it. The companies that stand to profit most.

It's all about to change.

This was confirmed at a meeting I just attended in The City, London's financial district. I arrived from Moscow's Domodedovo Airport for an unusual Saturday morning gathering of bankers, traders and analysts called only days before.

The subject? A new oil-pricing index.

This is huge.

More oil-project funding is raised within a three-mile radius of The City's Liverpool Street train station than anywhere else on Earth. And now they're preparing to control the oil trade, as well.

This will create all kinds of new ways to make money in oil. Not just with fancy financial instruments designed for the "big boys," but with retail investments, too. So there's money in this for you.


For more on the future of crude-oil investing ...

Investment News Briefs

Former McKinsey Director Pleads Guilty in Galleon Scandal; Unemployment Claims Drop; EPA Tightens Ozone Standards; Cold Snap Threatens Natural Gas Production; State Tax Collections Plummet; Oil Slides From a 15-month High

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Investment News Briefs

With our investment news briefs, Money Morning provides investors with a quick overview of the most important investing news stories from all around the world.

Total Forms Joint Venture with Chesapeake; Manufacturing Index Jumps; Cold Snap Drives Oil Higher; Car Sales Surge in December; Kraft Advances Bid for Cadbury; New BofA CEO Optimistic for U.S. This Year, But Krugman Shows Caution; WSJ: Banned Chinese Companies Continued to Do Business With U.S. Firms

  • Total SA (NYSE ADR: TOT) will pay up to $2.25 billion for a 25% stake in Chesapeake Energy Corp.'s (NYSE: CHK) assets in the Barnett Shale natural gas field in North Texas, Total said yesterday (Monday). Total will pay $800 million for the stake, and up to $1.45 billion for as long as six years by funding 60% of Chesapeake's costs in the field. The Barnett Shale field is the biggest producer of natural gas in the United States and accounted for 52% of Chesapeake's third-quarter output.

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Investment News Briefs

With our investment news briefs, Money Morning provides investors with a quick overview of the most important investing news stories from all around the world.

Fannie, Freddie Get Blank Checks; Holiday Retail Sales Rise 3.6%; Fed to Banks: Set Up CDs with Us; Health Care Bill Likely to Resemble Senate Version; JPMorgan Sues Former Bank Exec; Oil Tops $79 for First Time in Four Weeks

  • In what's been called a "perplexing" move by one analyst, the U.S. Treasury lifted a $200 billion cap on the amount of taxpayer dollars that can be injected into ailing mortgage firms Fannie Mae (NYSE: FNM) and Freddie Mac (NYSE: FRE) , providing unlimited support to them. The Treasury put into $60 billion into Fannie and $51 billion into Freddie, and were unlikely to need more than the $200 billion cap, wrote Keefe, Bruyette & Woods Inc. analyst Bose George in a note to investors yesterday (Monday). George views the Treasury's move as a way to more aggressively prop the U.S. housing market, and said the government could step up efforts of its Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), a mortgage-modification program designed for homeowners who can no longer afford them. But so far, HAMP and other government props have failed to stop a continuing wave of foreclosures, as Money Morning reported last fall. Shares of the firms, both government-sponsored enterprises (GSE) skyrocketed in trading yesterday. Fannie was up 20.95% to close at $1.27, while Freddie gained 26.98% to close at $1.60.

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How to Profit From the Oil-Price Spike of 2010

Oil prices staged a remarkable rally this year on the back of a weak dollar and a nascent economic recovery. In 2010, it's likely that these same factors will combine with an increase in global energy demand to push oil prices back up over $100 a barrel.

With stockpiles still high and energy demand rebounding sluggishly, most forecasts are calling for the "black gold" to edge up into the low-triple-digit price range. That's 40% higher than where oil is trading right now - but is still well below the record high of nearly $150 a barrel that was established in 2008.

Money Morning Chief Investment Strategist Keith Fitz-Gerald is even more bullish. He believes that a price of $100 a barrel is "easily attainable" and says that some sort of unforeseen market shock could cause crude oil to spike as high as $150 barrel by the end of 2010.

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New "Profit Routes" Emerge in Oil – Reporting from Moscow

MOSCOW - Sergei Kudryashov likes pizza, poker and American jazz. He's also deputy head of the Russian Ministry of Energy (Minenergo) and former VP at NK Rosneft OAO (LSE: ROSN), the No. 1 state-controlled oil producer.

I've known Sergei for almost two decades now. We compare notes whenever I'm in Moscow. This time, I briefed his team on key developments in the international oil markets. And, as usual, I came away from the meetings with some incredibly valuable information - information the public simply can't get on its own.

So let me share what I've just learned. It's a tremendous opportunity to profit from Russian oil - without investing a dime in the country itself. Indeed, as you'll see in a minute, there are several ways to make money right here at home.

First, here's what's going on.

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If U.S. Oil Companies Aren't Winning Bids in Iraq, Who Is?

Iraq has auctioned off more proven oil reserves in the past six months than are collectively held by the United States, Mexico, and the United Kingdom.

But U.S. oil companies have signed surprisingly few development contracts – and foreign rivals have swooped in to scoop up major deals.

Take last weekend, when Iraq wrapped up the biggest oil-field auction in history. Major new deals were announced by Europe's Royal Dutch Shell PLC (NYSE: RDS.A , RDS.B), OAO Gazprom (OTC ADR: OGZPY), Lukoil (OTC ADR: LUKOY), China's China National Petroleum Corp. (CNPC), and Malaysia's Petroliam Nasional Berhad (Petronas).

The U.S. oil majors – ExxonMobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM), ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP) and Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX) – were nowhere to be seen.

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Exxon Deal For XTO Energy May Set Off Wave of Energy Mergers and Acquisitions

In a deal that may set off a wave of mergers and acquisition (M&A) activity in the energy sector, Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM), the biggest U.S. oil company, agreed to buy XTO Energy Inc. (NYSE: XTO), the largest U.S. natural gas producer, in an all-stock deal valued at $31 billion.

Exxon, which hasn't made a major acquisition since it bought Mobil ten years ago, is taking advantage of the low gas prices pressuring smaller, debt-laden gas exploration companies. The economic downturn and discoveries of vast pools of North American natural gas have kept a lid on gas prices, leaving companies in the industry strapped for operating cash.

The deal announced yesterday (Monday) values XTO at $51.69 a share, 25% higher than Friday's closing price. XTO holders will get 0.7098 share of Exxon for each share of XTO. The Texas-based oil giant will also assume $10 billion in debt.

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Why Russia's Oil Fields Will Soon Be Crawling with Westerners

Western oil majors are about to help Moscow solve its energy problem. And that could be a boon for investors.

The traditional Russian oil fields in Western Siberia are well past peak production. Some satellite fields in the region remain, but the extraction gains will be marginal.

My sources in Russia's Ministry of Natural Resources and Ecology (MNRE), the government entity responsible for distribution and oversight of development leases, now acknowledge that the country's overall crude oil production could decline by more than 7% over the next several years.

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