Last week was a volatile one for crude oil futures, with the April contract closing the week at $102.58 a barrel having touched $105 per barrel at the start of the week. From a technical perspective until last week, the commodity had been firmly bullish, and the key event in mid February, was the breakout through the psychological $100 per barrel creating a strong platform of support in the region following the phase of price congestion at this level, earlier in the month. This has also combined with the failure at this price point in late 2013, adding further strength.
The key now is whether this level will continue to hold, and as we can see from the daily chart, this was tested on Thursday, with the doji candle, followed by Friday’s modest move higher as oil recaptured some of the losses of earlier in the week. The move lower was largely due to the confluence of three factors. First uncertainty in Russia which first drove prices higher, only for these to fall as markets calmed. Second, some limited US dollar strength, and finally on Wednesday a build in crude supplies, which although largely expected, saw the commodity sell off as a result.
Whilst events in Russia continue to remain uncertain, the US dollar on the daily chart continues to remain bearish, having moved firmly below the key 80.00 level, where a platform of support had been created and which has now been breached with the index ending the week at 79.87 suggesting possible further US dollar weakness in the longer term, which may give oil a further boost in due course. A move below 79 would certainly inject some additional momentum.
So where next for oil prices, and the chart to study here is the weekly one, which has an interesting story to tell. As we can see, last week’s price action closed with an extremely strong signal, a very well defined long legged doji. This is one of the premier candles in all time frames, and for this to appear on the weekly chart is clearly signalling a market of indecision, and one which at the very least is likely to pause and move sideways at this level. Alternatively we may see the market reverse sharply from here, and move lower to test the $100 per barrel area in due course. Either way, we can be sure of one thing – bullish momentum for oil is on hold for the time being on the weekly chart, and from here, it would be no surprise to see the commodity move lower, back through $100 per barrel and down to test the $96 per barrel area in due course.
What is also interesting is the volume associated with the price action over the last few weeks on the weekly chart. Here we see a market rising with falling volumes, not a strong signal for a continuation of the move higher, and indeed in addition, the above average volume of early February, coupled with the narrow spread up candle, started to tell its own story, and immediately followed by falling volumes on the move higher. So some strong signals here – but of course the Russians are always waiting in the wings!
By Anna Coulling