When global markets shake, not much does well. That’s certainly been the case the past several weeks, as worries about the potential economic impact of COVID-19 have spread.
Energy stocks were just beginning a recovery earlier this year when Chinese authorities first indicated an elevated threat to public health. What’s happened since is a full-on retreat in major sector indexes, with both the Alerian MLP Index and S&P 500 Energy Sector Index taking out the lows of early 2016.
That’s extraordinary for the fact alone that benchmark oil prices are still more than $20 above their February 2016 low point of $26 per barrel and change. Even North American benchmark natural gas is trading 8 percent higher than its March 2016 nadir of $1.61 per thousand cubic foot.
Oil and gas prices could, of course, fall even further in the next several weeks depending on virus and economic news. But with energy stocks already at early 2016 lows it’s clear how many have thrown in the towel on this still vital sector.
It’s also a pretty good indication of how little credence investors are giving to guidance from energy company managements—and how virtually no attention was paid to Q4 numbers as potential portents for 2020 results.
When a stock or sector is surging, the popular investment media has myriad reasons why upside momentum will continue. Equally, when a group has plummeted as much as energy has, there’s no lack of doomsayers forecasting even more damage.
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Elliott and Roger on Mar. 31, 2020
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