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Oil Following a Familiar Pattern – September 21, 2017

Terry Yaremchuk is a featured contributor on the Investing News Network (INN):

Since recovering from a massive selloff to the mid-US$20 range in early 2016, WTI has traded in an upwardly sloping band that ranges from the low US$40s to the high US$50s. Within that trading range a very evident pattern has established itself, as indicated by the cyclical markers shown in the daily chart below. Concurrent with the highs and lows are overbought/sold readings within RSI (relative strength) and cyclical peaks and troughs on the MACD (moving average convergence divergence) scale.

Of particular note is the coiling action that is developing with MACD. The peaks and valleys are triangulating into tighter and tighter lows and highs. While this action can’t predict which direction prices are ultimately headed, this type of coiling action typically precedes significant moves.

                                                                    WTI — daily


                                                                                                  Source:, September 21, 2017

For the near term, RSI is nearing overbought status and MACD is approaching the upper bound of that triangulation zone. Extrapolating the pattern, it would suggest that US$52 or below is an inflection point and by extension we could see a short-term pullback to near US$48.

The longer-term picture is a little more ominous when analyzing the weekly and monthly charts, as I will explain below.

                                                                    WTI  weekly


                                                                                              Source:, September 21, 2017

One of the indicators that I pay the most attention to is MACD. A divergence occurs when there is a disconnect between price and MACD as indicated by the orange dashed lines. A positive divergence occurred during 2015, where higher lows of MACD were coincident with lower lows of price. This is a very good indicator that sellers are becoming exhausted and that a trend change is happening. It is especially significant when this happens on a longer timescale as it has on the weekly chart. The bad news for oil bulls is that a negative divergence established itself during 2016 and could be signaling that all is not warm and fuzzy in the oil patch.

                                                                     WTI — monthly


                                                                                             Source:, September 21, 2017

MACD is flattening and threatening to roll over on the monthly as well, which is also suggestive of lower prices. One could also make the case that a head-and-shoulders pattern is developing on the monthly, and if the neckline were to be breached a measured move target for oil would be in the mid-US$30s. This is a slow-moving train, so it will be sometime next year or beyond until we are likely to see this scenario.


On all timescales, from a technical perspective the bias is bearish.

Terry Yaremchuk

Investment Advisor and Futures Trading representative 



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