Many market pundits debate when crude oil will rebound. But it likely won't happen until the U.S. economy recovers. Earlier Thursday, I spoke via telephone with Phil Flynn, the commodity guru at Alaron Trading in Chicago. Here is a summary of our conversation: TheStreet.com: You've said that crude oil prices won't bottom out until the U.S. economy bottoms out. Has the recent hype surrounding China affected your view on oil prices? Phil Flynn: No. I still believe that crude oil won't find support until the U.S. economy stabilizes. A lot of people are hoping that China will somehow drive the whole world out of this recession. China can probably pump up demand for short periods of time, but those rallies won't be sustainable until U.S. consumers start spending money again. What do you make of the chatter surrounding China possibly enlarging its stimulus package? Traders in Chicago are saying that China's Premier Wen Jiabao "pulled a Geithner" by hyping up rumors of a major new stimulus package and then failing to mention it during his address to the Chinese parliament last night. China probably needs to learn the importance of the relationship between market expectations and the timing of economic news releases.
This is a reference to U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner's handling of the U.S. stimulus package last fall. The markets reacted negatively on Thursday after the hopes surrounding a bigger Chinese stimulus package failed to materialize in Premier Jiabao's address. Given that analysts are expecting bad news in Friday's employment report, what is your prognosis for oil prices in the short term? I think the market is prepared to receive the worst employment report in a long time on Friday. In fact, expectations are so bearish, there is a good chance that the report will actually beat expectations. If that happens, we could see a rally in commodities on Friday. I must reiterate, however, that any rally we do see over the next few days will probably be short-lived. Over the long haul, I don't see any data forthcoming that will be sufficient to build long-term support for crude oil prices. Summary: Flynn suggested that the energy space could see a rally on Friday. However, he is still maintaining the view that crude oil markets will get worse before they get better. This prognosis has implications for all energy stocks. The integrated stocks could be particularly affected. They are BP ( BP), Chevron ( CVX), ConocoPhillips ( COP), Royal Dutch Shell ( RDS.A) and Exxon Mobil ( XOM).