The Oil Trend Is in Play: 2 Ways to Trade It

Oil is surging this spring, coming back in a big way from a historic rout that sent crude prices plummeting about 45% from peak to trough in the fourth quarter of 2018, and included the worst losing streak for crude oil on record.

It’s been a completely different market in 2019.

Not only have crude prices retraced more than half of their tumble since the calendar flipped to January – the rebound rally in oil isn’t showing any signs of slowing down as we head into May.

That newfound bull market for oil has been getting some big attention from Wall Street lately; news hit Tuesday morning that Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.AGet Report) (BRK.BGet Report) will invest $10 billion in Occidental Petroleum  (OXYGet Report) to help the producer secure its $38 billion bid for Anadarko Petroleum  (APCGet Report) .

To figure out how to trade oil from here, we’re turning to the charts for a technical look at two ways to play the trend.

Up first is oil itself, via the U.S. Oil Fund (USOGet Report) , the crude oil ETF that’s become investors’ easiest way to get exposure to crude prices:

At a glance, you don’t need to be an expert technical trader to spot the prevailing trend in oil prices right now. Since the start of January, USO has been in the midst of a very well-defined uptrend.

The first murmurs of a bullish reversal in oil actually started toward the end of November, thanks to a bullish reversal pattern called an inverse head and shoulders; that setup triggered a buy shortly after the uptrend when USO pushed through the $11.50 level. The fact that a pair of independent buy signals triggered within about a month of each other in USO provides solid confirmation for this rally’s staying power. So does the bounce we’re seeing off of USO’s trendline this week.

So far, every test of trendline support has been met with a bounce higher – and that’s proving to be the case now. This looks like as good a time as any to be a buyer of oil.

For a higher-beta way to play energy, take a look at Diamond Offshore Drilling Inc. (DOGet Report) :

By and large, energy producers haven’t participated in the resurgence in oil prices in 2019. That’s certainly been the case in shares of Diamond Offshore, which is down more than 8% as of this writing on the heels of a Q1 earnings call that included revenue and dayrate declines.

Still, Diamond’s price action has mirrored energy prices in that the playbook flipped from downtrend to exceptionally well-defined uptrend at the start of the new calendar year. Now, the earnings selloff is sending shares down for a pretty textbook test of trendline support.

So far, the last four tests of this level have provided strong buying opportunities before Diamond’s next move up to the top of its price range. If buyers step back in within the next couple of sessions, we could see the same thing again.

Risk management is key if you decide to trade this stock – it’s crucial to wait for buyers to step in and spur a bounce off support before taking this trade. Doing that means missing out on catching the very bottom of this swing, but it also mitigates a huge amount of risk if Diamond’s uptrend ends up getting violated by the earnings selloff.

Keep a close eye on how shares trade in the next couple of sessions. A bounce off of support provides action-hungry traders with an opportunity for some near-term upside.


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