WTI Crude Plummets With Brexit; Oil-Levered Names Feel the Hurt

Just as the oil and gas industry started to see signs of renewed life in the U.S., the United Kingdom appears to have sent a title wave crashing down on commodity markets.

West Texas Intermediate futures, the U.S. crude oil benchmark, were down more than 5% to $47.56 as the stock markets prepared to open Friday. Futures for the global benchmark, Brent Crude, were down nearly 5.4% to $48.18. 

U.S. stock markets also saw their steepest decline in 10 months as the Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted by 400 points to start the day, the S&P 500 opened down 37 points, and the Nasdaq Composite took its largest daily hit since 2011, beginning the session down 186 points, or 3.8%.

While the effect of the so-called Brexit weighing heavily across the board, diversified oil and gas behemoths like ExxonMobil (XOM) and Chevron (CVX) took a relatively modest hit in share prices, both down less than 2% near 10 a.m. Friday. 

Not surprisingly, oil and gas players that are more heavily levered to commodity prices, such as U.S. independent explorers and producers QEP Resources (QEP) , Pioneer Natural Resources (PXD) and Marathon Oil (MRO) , were all suffering greater losses between 3% and 4% early Friday. 

The drop in oil prices following Brexit can be largely linked to a bolstered dollar, which saw as much as a 3.7% increase Friday, as a stronger dollar typically depresses oil prices. 

But fear not says BMI Research, a market analysis firm, in the long-term the UK's Brexit vote will have a limited impact on the global crude oil market.

"Risk-off trading will depress prices in the coming days, but positive physical fundamentals - which remain unchanged in the wake of the vote - will see any losses quickly pared. However, we highlight strong downside risks to North Sea investments, due to renewed uncertainty surrounding Scottish independence," BMI analysts wrote in a Friday report. "Heightened volatility and broad risk-off sentiment pose further downside risk to prices [temporarily]. However, declines will be capped by firming fundamentals in the physical crude oil market and we expect any losses to be rapidly reversed."

On the other hand, the firm also warns that the Brexit vote is "a potential trigger for wider and more sustained financial market weakness" and has raised the odds on other tail-risk events, such as a U.S.
recession, Chinese yuan devaluation and a fiscal crisis in Japan. 

Meanwhile, the commodities market could take another blow later today as Baker Hughes is set to release its weekly rig report at 1 p.m.

After three consecutive weeks of reported rig increases, a fourth uptick in active rigs could mean operators are putting rigs back to work sooner than expected, and even though analysts have warned that production tends to lag increased rig activity significantly, some have noted that a lower-than-expected U.S. production decline could hinder a global oil rally

More from Opinion

Throwback Thursday: Have No Fear, Cramer's Here to Stave Off the Hungry Bears

Throwback Thursday: Have No Fear, Cramer's Here to Stave Off the Hungry Bears

Cisco Jumps After Beating Estimates: 5 Key Takeaways

Cisco Jumps After Beating Estimates: 5 Key Takeaways

Wednesday Wrap-Up: The Bear Bites Into Apple

Wednesday Wrap-Up: The Bear Bites Into Apple

Tencent's Earnings Are Reminder That There's More to Its Story Than Just Games

Tencent's Earnings Are Reminder That There's More to Its Story Than Just Games

Apple Supplier Lumentum's Warning May Not Be as Bad for Apple as Feared

Apple Supplier Lumentum's Warning May Not Be as Bad for Apple as Feared