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TheStreet Open House

How to Play Crude Oil Futures

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- I am staring at a sea of red on my screen as I write this.

S&P 500 is down 23 handles, a stronger greenback, interest rates falling, and a whole lot of "risk-off" trade. Looking at the context of this sell-off it is not surprising. Earnings have been disappointing, the S&P's failed to break out above the 1460ish area, and overall the economy remains sluggish.

Add to that a presidential race that looks to be very close going into the home stretch, and investors have plenty of reasons to pull the trigger on the sell side and take some risk off.

I maintain that thus far this is a normal correction, and that at some point the equities and risk assets will bottom, the question is when. In the meantime, I think it is very important that one look at overall "sentiment" when looking for trade opportunities during times like this.

Today I am looking at crude oil in particular. As I have stated in previous articles, once support on oil is broken, oil has a tendency to fall in dramatic fashion. Thus far, that tendency is once again proving to be the case as oil is currently down $2.50 per barrel at $86.18 on the December futures contract. I bring up oil because I have written previously about how to play the range it had been in for several weeks.

Well, as of today, oil has now clearly broken out of that trading range to the downside, and therefore the trading plan must change.

The market is now trending lower on the daily as well as weekly timeframes, and you all know what they say about the trend. Get on the right side of it for the highest probability trade opportunities. Now, does this mean I would go in and sell oil today? Probably not.

The market has lost a lot of ground in a short period of time, going from a high of $93.49 just on Friday to a low of today at this point of $85.69. I am of the opinion that markets do not go straight up or straight down, and therefore to sell here would present a poor risk/reward scenario on the trade.

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