The following commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet's guest contributor program, which is separate from the company's news coverage.By Ivan Martchev for InvestorPlace NEW YORK ( InvestorPlace) -- Since rebounding off the panicked "Europe" low in early October, crude oil is up 35% while the U.S. Dollar Index is up 1.7%. Often, crude oil rallies have been associated with dollar selloffs, giving credibility to the idea that a falling dollar tends to boost the price of crude oil.
Trade-Weighted Broad Dollar Index, thanks to its broader composition, including BRIC and other currencies.)
Cracks Spreads Are on Crack!
MRO - Get Report) and Marathon Petroleum ( MPC) in 2011, and such is the case with ConocoPhillips ( COP) this year. Before the spinoff, MRO shares were notable outperformers in the sector last year, which is one reason why COP shares have been outperforming since early February. The spinoff is only one part of management's strategy to sustainably increase profitability per barrel of oil -- by $7 in 2011 -- which ultimately will benefit shareholders. There have been many asset sales, as well as debt retirement and stock buyback programs, in addition to the dividend of 3.4% with a mere 29% payout ratio. If the profitability per barrel of oil produced keeps rising -- clearly management's intention supported by a long history of success -- the shares sooner or later will reflect the profit surge. With such an industry-wide surge in refining margins, it is no wonder that we see refining stocks showing improving trends of EPS and sales estimates.