As crude oil trades, so trades the stock market. Crude oil prices set a 2016 low of $27.56 a barrel a week ago on Jan. 20, at the same time the five major equity averages set their year-to-date lows.
Chevron (CVX) - Get Report and Exxon Mobil (XOM) - Get Report , both components of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, bottomed well before crude oil or the Dow. Now both will be reporting earnings and investors will be watching.
Chevron is scheduled to report Friday. Analysts expect the oil giant to earn a downwardly revised 51 cents a share (from 63 cents a week ago). This low bar can be beaten if the company has adjusted to the lower price for crude oil via wider margins on oil-based products.
The stock set its low of $69.58 during the Aug. 24 flash crash. The company missed earnings estimates on July 31, which was the downside catalyst. An earnings beat on Oct. 30 was followed by a failed test of its 200-day simple moving average of $96.84 on Nov. 3.
Exxon Mobil is scheduled Monday. Analysts expect this oil giant to earn a downwardly revised 70 cents a share (from 76 cents a week ago). This low bar can also $66.55 on Aug. 24, during the flash crash of Black Monday. The company missed earnings estimates on July 31, which was the downside catalyst. An earnings beat on Oct. 30 was followed by false breakout of its 200-day simple moving average of $83.04 on Nov. 2. The stock peaked at $87.43 on Nov. 3.
Here's an illustration of the correlation between crude oil prices and the Dow:
The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the price of a barrel of oil declined by significant percentages until both bottomed on Jan. 20. The Dow 30 traded as low as 15,450.56 that day and was down 11.3% year to date and in correction territory 15.8% below its all-time high of 18,351.36, set on May 19. Nymex crude oil set its 52-week low of $27.56 that day, down 25.6% year to date and down 75% since August 2013.
The Dow rallied significantly between August 2013 and May 2015 partially on the notion that lower energy costs would help the economic recovery. The notable change to where the ups and downs of stocks followed the ups and downs of oil began when the Dow set a secondary high of 17,977.85 on Nov. 3, just as shares of Chevron and Exxon Mobil peaked. A modest recovery for crude oil failed at its 200-day simple moving average on Oct. 9 with oil at $50.92. This marked the shift in the correlation that began on Nov. 3.
Since Jan. 20, oil prices have stabilized as my key level of $29.90 a barrel became a magnet. This level will be in play through the end of March.
The weekly charts shown below are negative, but could shift to positive this week. The red line through the weekly price bars is the key weekly moving average (a five-week modified moving average). The green line is the 200-week simple moving average considered the "reversion to the mean". The study in red along the bottom of the chart is weekly momentum (a 12x3x3 weekly slow stochastic), which scales between 00.00 and 100.00, where readings above 80.00 indicates overbought and readings below 20.00 indicates oversold.
A negative weekly chart shows the stock below its key weekly moving average with weekly momentum declining below 80.00 in a trend towards 20.00.
Here's the weekly chart for Chevron.
Courtesy of MetaStock Xenith
The weekly chart for Chevron, which closed Tuesday at $84, ended last week negative, but will shift to positive if the close on Friday is above its key weekly moving average of $85.99. The weekly momentum reading will be rising above the Jan. 22 level of 34.21 if the weekly close is above $85.99.
Investors looking to buy Chevron should place a good till canceled limit order to buy the stock if it drops to $83.15, which is a key level on technical charts until the end of this week. A close above a key technical level of $84.25 enhances the upside potential. This key level remains in play until the end of March.
Investors looking to reduce holdings should place a good until canceled limit order to sell the stock if it rises to $100.84, which is a key level on technical charts until the end of 2016.
Here's the weekly chart for Exxon Mobil.
Courtesy of MetaStock Xenith
The weekly chart for Exxon, which closed Tuesday around $77, ended last week negative, but will shift to positive if the close on Friday, Jan. 29 is above its key weekly moving average of $77.33. The weekly momentum reading is projected to rise to 31.22 this week, up from 28.82 on Jan. 22.
Investors looking to buy Exxon should place a good till canceled limit order to buy the stock if it drops to $72.87 and $71.20, which are key levels on technical charts until the end of March and the end of 2016, respectively.
Investors looking to reduce holdings should place a good until canceled limit order to sell the stock if it rises to $91.76, which is a key level on technical charts until the end of 2016.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.