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Can the Markets and Economy Keep the Positive Vibes This Week?

West Texas intermediate crude oil shrugged off last week’s production freeze failure in Doha by climbing $3.37 to $43.73 a barrel last week, its highest price since early last December. Further evidence of declining production in North America and several supply disruptions have helped to stabilize the price, and investors are increasingly looking beyond the current supply overhang and anticipating a more balanced market in the months ahead. Energy stocks responded in-kind as the XLE rose 5.5 percent last week, far outpacing the modest 0.5 percent gain in the S&P 500, and has climbed 30 percent from its January low. 

The Price of Oil and Equity Markets: How Interconnected are They?

The weekend meeting of major world oil producers in Doha intended to craft a freeze in oil production has ended without an agreement. Iran’s refusal to attend, and Saudi Arabia’s insistence that all OPEC members agree to the freeze resulted in a stalemate. As a result, the price of oil is once again in retreat. The biggest immediate losers are the producing countries whose fiscal budgets have been bludgeoned by the plunge in crude prices. And all but the lowest cost shale producers in the U.S. will remain under pressure to curtail production further.  

Earnings, Oil and the Economy

This is the week when the stock market will be forced to confront its fears. After absorbing a first quarter decline of 11 percent, as investors wrestled with growth fears, aided and abetted by a collapse in oil, tighter U.S. monetary policy and downward earnings revisions, stocks valiantly fought their way back to even. Oil rallied on hopes for a supply response to the oversupplied market, the Federal Reserve backed-off its projected rate increase trajectory, even as the economy showed some resiliency and lower earnings were increasingly dismissed as old news that was already discounted. The week ahead will begin to reveal if the stocks have rallied in vain.

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