The report by Reuters of an agreement between OPEC members to limit oil production to under 32.5 million barrels a day sent stocks in the energy space sharply higher in Wednesday's session. It remains to be seen if participants will keep to their individual production quotas, and the spike in energy prices had all the characteristics of a relief rally.
The implication, then, is that the volatility should moderate, and while the best-performing stocks may see some pullback, it is just as likely that the laggards in the space will move higher.
One particular underperformer in the broader energy space has been the oil services sector. The weekly chart of the Van Eek Vectors Oil Services ETF (OIH) - Get Report , below, shows the decline in price that began in September 2014, after it dropped below its 200-day moving average.
The graph at the top of the above chart illustrates the fund's relative performance to the Energy Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLE) - Get Report over the period. The OIH has lagged the XLE by over 30%, which this suggests that even if energy prices only stabilize from here, the services sector should see some relative improvement. If that turns out to be the case, a second derivative of the "catch-up" thesis would be to find a laggard in the oil services sector, and there is one such stock that stands out.
FMC Technologies (FTI) - Get Report is a holding in the OIH and represents 4.8% of its assets, but as the graph at the top of this chart shows the stock has underperformed the ETF by 18% over the last three years.
FMC Technologies has been consolidating this year in a triangle pattern of higher lows below horizontal resistance in the $30.25 area. An interior more restricted wedge formed over the last five months, further compressing range as reflected in the extremely low Bollinger bandwidth reading at the bottom of the chart. This level of compression is usually followed by a volatile move, and the technical indications on the daily timeframe suggest it will be to the upside.
The daily chart shows the stock price moving higher at the beginning of the year in a rising channel, then making a high-wick triple top in May and moving back down below a three month downtrend line. The bounce in August gained momentum after taking out the 50-day moving average and then broke above trend line resistance. The stock has been unable to further the advance but has held above former resistance-turned-support, and the resulting declining channel resembles a bull flag pattern.
The combination of bullish fundamental news and the technical underpinnings for a volatile catch-up move makes FTI a long candidate at its current level, using a trailing percentage stop.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.