If market action on Monday is any indication, the trading week could be a long one. As global markets grapple with the rapid spread of the coronavirus, the markets are now being hit with an oil market sell-off the likes of which has not been seen since the Gulf War. After an OPEC deal failure over the weekend, the price of crude oil plunged by up to 30 percent on Monday as nervous investors hit the sell button.
The situation in oil began to develop last week. As OPEC looked to its allies to strike a deal on production cuts, Russia declined to accept a deal. This, in turn, likely caused Saudi Arabia to slash the price it charges for its oil as it looks to increase production. On Saturday, the Kingdom announced significant discounts on April selling prices. The Kingdom also is reportedly looking to ramp up production to over 10 million barrels per day, from its current production level of 9.7 million barrels per day. Some analysts have suggested that the Saudi Arabian/Russian price war began this weekend as Saudi Arabia initiated the largest price cut in over two decades.
The oil price war does not come at a good time for the market. Crude oil has already been under selling pressure as the coronavirus spreads and becomes an increasingly significant focal point for global markets. Adding insult to injury, not only was a production cut agreement not reached going forward, but current cuts are set to expire at the end of the month with no direction going forward. Exporters may, therefore, be able to decide how much oil they pump.
The oil price war, combined with concerns over coronavirus, has sent stocks sharply lower Monday. The benchmark Dow Jones Industrial Average has been down over 2000 points at the lows of the day, while all U.S. Treasury yield are now below 1 percent.
After trading over $30 per ounce higher in action last night following the market’s open, the price of gold has settled back down. The yellow metal is trading $1.70 higher in early afternoon action. The rise and subsequent decline of gold in recent hours may be attributed to concerns over the health of the Chinese economy, the globe’s second largest. The yellow metal may also find willing sellers as the need to raise cash increases due to market volatility and margin calls.
The decline in global equity markets could have a way to go. Although central banks stand ready to cut rates further or to implement other measures such as QE, the risks of an oil price war and the coronavirus cannot be overstated. U.S. equity markets are in correction territory already, and a rapid move towards bear market territory could be seen in the days and weeks ahead. Monday marks the 11th anniversary of the U.S. stock bull market, yet many are now questioning whether the run higher is over.
The gold market, on the other hand, could be at the beginning stages of a bull market that could last for years. Despite the metal’s reversal from overnight highs, gold could stand to benefit if stocks move lower and risk aversion rises further.