Like every investor, I try to read voraciously to get an edge. I'm always on the lookout for investment angles that haven't gotten much press but could eventually turn into a market moving event. So my ears perked up last week when I saw that hedge fund traders have recently been aggressively buying energy futures, betting that we'll soon see oil move up to $100 a barrel. In subsequent days, it's become easier to see the signs of $100 oil popping up on people's radars.
For example, on Monday, Saudi oil minister Ali Naimi suggested that oil prices could move up to $90 without hurting global economic growth, up from a previous perceived ceiling of $80. That's led some to speculate that OPEC will try to maintain production at current levels, even as signs are emerging that oil demand has begun to pick up.
Economic growth in emerging markets like Brazil and China remains robust, which led to a 1.4 million barrel jump in the third quarter, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA) and a 980,000 barrel uptick in Western Europe and the United States. Any further uptick in global demand could push oil demand back up to, or above, supply levels.
Analysts at Merrill Lynch see $100 oil by early 2011 for a more prosaic reason: They believe that the U.S. Federal Reserve's plan for quantitative easing (QE2) will weaken the dollar and raise the price of commodities, particularly gold, silver and oil. [Read: "How The Fed Will Affect Your Portfolio This Week"] The recent move in the dollar is a possible harbinger of things to come, according to Merrill: "We believe that oil is only starting to reflect a weak U.S. dollar against G10, leaving room for oil price rises as emerging market currencies strengthen against the U.S. dollar."
Read the entire article > "Why 2011 May Be the Year of the Oil Comeback"
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