Just two weeks ago, with West Texas intermediate crude oil trading at $73.36 per barrel, I called the bottom of the 2007 summer slide by predicting a move toward $80 oil. Wasting no time, crude oil closed at a record high of $80.09 on Thursday.
How did oil top $80?
The Energy Department cites lower inventories of both crude oil and gasoline. Hurricane Humberto popped up out of nowhere, knocking out power to Port Arthur, Texas, refineries owned by Total SA,
Royal Dutch Shell
( RDS-B) as well as to 114,000
customers. These factors, combined with a weakening dollar and pessimistic predictions of more Atlantic hurricanes, helped oil to the new record high.
While oil made its run to these heights, natural gas prices rebounded off the lower end of its $5.50-to-$9.00 per million British thermal unit trading range. The top-performing energy fund, the
United States Natural Gas Fund
, rose by 8.66% for the week ended Sept. 13 as the Henry Hub natural gas futures contracts held by the fund moved up faster than the 3.65% advance in the spot price.
The futures contracts on West Texas intermediate light crude oil held by the
United States Oil Fund
helped the fund to a return of 4.41%, making it the second-best performer. One more factor spurring on the rise in oil is increasing global energy demand.
WisdomTree International Energy Sector Fund
( DKA), which invests in oil- and gas-related companies from around the globe, rose 3.73%. The ETF has no U.S. holdings, but the Netherlands accounts for 15.9%, the U.K. 13.0%, France 12.1%, Italy 11.4% and Australia 11.3%.
The fund's best-performing holding this week is
, the largest Chinese national offshore oil and gas producer, which gained 7.87%. It was helped as
, its partner on a liquefied natural gas project in Tangguh, Indonesia, received a loan to complete the project.
here for an explanation of our ratings.
The worst-performing energy fund this week was
Tortoise Energy Infrastructure Corp (TYG), a closed-end fund that sank 6.30% over the five trading days ended Thursday. Drilling down to the master limited partnership holdings that lost the most, we find
Williams Partners LP
Magellan Midstream Partners LP
down 3.76% and
Plains All American Pipeline LP
Magellan is currently in hot water with the Environmental Protection Agency over ammonia and petroleum spills from its pipelines. Meanwhile, Plains All American Pipeline's refinery spilled 4,000 gallons of gasoline in Martinez, Calif., but was able to contain the leak behind a 6-foot dike.
The second-worst performer, losing 5.06% for the period, was the
Tortoise Energy Capital Corp (TYY), another closed-end fund. It was burdened by a 6.16% decline in
Regency Energy Partners LP
( RGNC) and a slide of 5.13% in
Boardwalk Pipeline Partners LP
Regency Energy released a letter from the
Securities and Exchange Commission
detailing how it should improve its financial disclosure. Boardwalk Pipelines issued an SEC filing to disclose the end of negotiations to sell a 49% stake in its Gulf Crossing Pipeline.
this for an explanation of our ratings.
On Tuesday, OPEC declared an increase of 500,000 barrels of output to ease its fear that it would get blamed for sending the U.S. into a recession by not doing enough to slow the rise in oil prices.
This move was seen as confirmation of a tight oil-supply environment, so it did little to ease prices. The additional half million barrels are to be added to the 26.7 million barrels per day official output of the 10 OPEC members beginning Nov. 1.
survey of oil analysts and traders is predicting lower crude prices, possibly from reduced demand from refineries shutting down for maintenance. If Tropical Storm Ingrid survives the wind shear and heads toward Florida or the Gulf of Mexico, crude oil prices may hang on to current levels. Personally, from my desk in South Florida, I'm looking for a break in the weather.
Kevin Baker became the senior financial analyst for TSC Ratings upon the August 2006 acquisition of Weiss Ratings by TheStreet.com, covering mutual funds. He joined the Weiss Group in 1997 as a banking and brokerage analyst. In 1999, he created the Weiss Group's first ratings to gauge the level of risk in U.S. equities. Baker received a B.S. degree in management from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and an M.B.A. with a finance specialization from Nova Southeastern University.