Coming out of Memorial Day weekend, WTI crude oil closed out May with its sixth straight monthly gain, resulting in the second-longest streak going back to 1983. Everyone with a car has dealt with rising costs at the pump, and the AAA national average price per gallon is currently $4.67, the highest level on record. This comes as the Biden administration has halted the importation of Russian oil, and the European Union attempts to reduce its energy dependence on Russia as well. At the same time, the reopening has caused a pick-up in demand, and the gross imbalance of supply and demand has pushed up prices to nearly unprecedented levels.
Since the US government stopped price controls on US crude oil in the early 1980s, there have only been six other periods where WTI prices rose for five or more consecutive months. As you can see from the chart below, half of these occurrences were shortly after the Global Financial Crisis, as prices rebounded from the sharp downturn in prices during the financial collapse, and the most recent was in early 2018.
Following five consecutive months of gains in oil, the average performance has been relatively weak compared to historical averages. In the first five months of each streak, oil prices have rallied by an average of 40.9% (median: 38.6%), which is nearly ten times higher than the average of all five-month periods since 1983. However, oil tends to underperform in the near term following these occurrences, registering an average loss of 3.2% and 0.8% over the next week and month, respectively. Notably, this was the only occurrence in which the price of oil climbed higher in both the following week and month, gaining 4.9% and 9.5% respectively. The only period in which the average performance was higher than that of all periods is three months, as oil has averaged a gain of 4.4% after a streak of five months is reached.
The chart below summarizes the performance one year before and after a streak of five months is reached. As you can see, oil has traded most similarly to the late 2009 occurrence, in which the price of oil rose by 15.1% in the following year. Long story short, although the average performance in these time periods is relatively weak, there isn’t a clear trend in performance in one direction or the other. Click here to become a Bespoke premium member today!