The most important trend happening in the oil market has to do with China, oil guru and RBN Energy President and Principal Energy Markets Consultant Rusty Braziel tells CNBC’s Jim Cramer.
Braziel, a frequent “Mad Money” guest who has correctly predicted several oil price collapses in recent years, referenced the commodity’s price drop in October of last year. After starting the month near four-year highs, crude oil prices saw their biggest monthly drop in over two years.
Since October, oil prices have been trading lower, a trend some have connected to incipient economic weakness in China. While Cramer wasn’t convinced by that line of thinking, Braziel said in a Monday interview that it actually had merit.
“If demand in China is down, if the economy in China is down, that means the total demand for crude oil is going to be down. If crude oil demand drops, then total demand drops, then … crude oil prices are likely to decline, too,” Braziel said. “As a matter of fact, that’s really the most important thing that’s going on right now, and it’s what happened back in 2014.”
In the fourth quarter of 2014, crude oil prices saw a steep decline during a worldwide oil glut, in which global production exceeded demand. From their highs in June to their troughs in December, they lost over 40 percent in market value.
“In 2014, the economy got weaker, and when that happened, the market lost confidence in its ability to absorb incremental production of crude oil from the United States,” Braziel explained. “That’s exactly what happened in October.”
As for where oil’s going next, Braziel’s answer wasn’t quite as colorful, but it could come as a relief to energy market-watchers.
“The market has recognized that it was never going to be $70,” he said, pointing to the oil futures curve. “It was never going to be $40, $42. It’s going to be bouncing back and forth between some number around $55 or $60.”
U.S. crude prices fell Monday amid worries about a global economic slowdown. West Texas Intermediate crude shed 3.2 percent, settling at $51.99 a barrel. Brent crude, the international benchmark, lost 2.8 percent, ending the day at $59.93.
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