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Brent crude oil vs WTI oil: what are the key differences?

Oil benchmarks are important because it describes where the commodity comes from, which is an important factor in determining its use. Benchmarks also enable traders and investors to track the price of a specific oil type.

Oil benchmarking and pricing

Oil benchmarks are important because it describes where the commodity comes from, which is an important factor in determining its use. Benchmarks also enable traders and investors to track the price of a specific oil type.

As mentioned earlier in the article, Brent crude is the benchmark used for the wider light oil market – ie Europe, Africa and the Middle East, while WTI is the benchmark for the US light oil market. Other countries often use both Brent and WTI as benchmarks to value their crude oil.

Benchmarks for the heavy sour crude oil market are Dubai crude and Omani crude.

How to trade Brent crude and WTI

There are different ways to trade Brent crude and WTI, depending on your preferences. One of the most common ways to buy and sell oil is via futures, but there are also other ways to get exposure to the commodity.

Futures

When you trade oil futures, you agree to trade the oil benchmark (in this case, Brent crude or WTI) at a specific price at a fixed date in the future. This method is preferred by traders with a longer-term view, as positions can be held without paying overnight funding charges. The charge is already included in the spread.

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Options

With options, you have the right, but not the obligation, to buy or sell an underlying asset when its price moves beyond a certain limit within a set time period. You can buy and sell options using derivatives. IG offers daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly options, with benefits such as lower spreads, flexible leverage and zero overnight funding.

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CFDs and spread bets

You can go long or short on the spot price of Brent crude and WTI oil using derivatives, namely CFDs and spread bets. Derivatives enable you to open a position with a small deposit (margin) and speculate on rising or falling oil prices without ever owning the physical commodity.

When trading futures and options, you’ll also use CFDs or spread bets.

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Shares

You can invest directly in oil company shares, such as BP or Royal Dutch Shell, and profit if the share price goes up. Investing also enables you to receive dividends, if the company pays them, and earn shareholder rights. You can also trade shares via spread bets and CFDs, enabling you to go long or short on underlying prices.

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ETFs

Exchange traded funds (ETFs) are investment instruments that track the performance of a market, such as oil. They enable you to get exposure to a basket of oil stocks in a single trade. Find out which are the popular oil ETFs to watch.

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Brent crude vs WTI summed up

  • Brent crude oil is popularly used to refine into diesel fuel and gasoline. It’s one of the major benchmarks for oil in the Middle East, Europe and Africa
  • WTI (West Texas Intermediate) oil is commonly used for gasoline refining. It’s primarily a benchmark for the US oil market
  • Brent crude and WTI differ in terms of where it’s extracted, its composition, how it’s affected by geopolitics, where it’s traded and how it’s priced
  • With IG, you can trade oil via futures, options and derivatives, or invest in oil company stocks and oil ETFs

Ready to get started? Open your IG account now for exposure to live oil markets, or try our risk-free demo.

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Daily Financial News

Don’t Count On JPY Correction; Staying Long GBP/JPY

The path of the potential pace of the JPY decline may still be underestimated by markets, which continue trading the JPY long.

While the 10% USDJPY advance from September lows looks impressive from a momentum point of view, it may no thave been driven by Japan’s institutional investors reducing their hedging ratios or Japan’s household sector reestablishing carry trades.

Instead, investors seemed to have been caught on the wrong foot, concerned about a sudden decline of risk appetite or the incoming US administration being focused on trade issues and not on spending. Spending requires funding and indeed the President-elect Trump’s team appears to be focused on funding. Here are a few examples: Reducing corporate taxation may pave the way for US corporates repatriating some of their USD2.6trn accumulated foreign profits. Cutting bank regulation could increase the risk-absorbing capacity within bank balance sheets. Hence, funding conditions – including for the sovereign – might generally ease. De-regulating the oil sector would help the trade balance, slowing the anticipated increase in the US current account deficit. The US current account deficit presently runs at 2.6% of GDP, which is below worrisome levels. Should the incoming government push for early trade restrictions, reaction (including Asian sovereigns reducing their holdings) could increase US funding costs, which runs against the interest of the Trump team.

Instead of counting on risk aversion to stop the JPY depreciation, we expect nominal yield differentials and the Fed moderately hiking rates to unleash capital outflows from Japan.The yield differential argumenthas become more compelling with the BoJ turning into yield curve managers. Via this policy move, rising inflation rates push JPY real rates and yields lower, which will weaken the JPY. Exhibit 12 shows how much Japan’s labor market conditions have tightened. A minor surge in corporate profitability may now be sufficient, pushing Japan wages up and implicity real yields lower.

JPY dynamics are diametrical to last year . Last year, the JGB’s “exhausted”yield curve left the BoJ without a tool to push real yields low enough to adequately address the weakened nominal GDP outlook. JPY remained artificially high at a time when the US opted for sharply lower real yields. USDJPY had to decline, triggering JPY bullish secondround effects via JPY-based financial institutions increasing their FX hedge ratios and Japan’s retail sector cutting its carry trade exposures. Now the opposite seems to be happening. The managed JGB curve suggests rising inflation expectations are driving Japan’s real yield lower. The Fed reluctantly hiking rates may keep risk appetite supported but increase USD hedging costs.Financial institutions reducinghedge ratios and Japan’s household sector piling back into the carry trade could provide secondround JPY weakening effects

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Daily Financial News

Mexico raises interest rates, cites Trump as risk

The head of Mexico’s central bank says U.S. Republican candidate Donald Trump represents a “hurricane” sized threat to Mexico.

Banco de Mexico Gov. Agustin Carstens told the Radio Formula network Friday that a Trump presidency “would be a hurricane and a particularly intense one if he fulfills what he has been saying in his campaign.”

Trump has proposed building a wall along the border and re-negotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Mexico’s central bank raised its prime lending rate by half a percent to 4.75 percent Thursday, citing “nervousness surrounding the possible consequences of the U.S. elections, whose implications for Mexico could be particularly significant.”

Mexico’s peso had lost about 6 percent in value against the dollar since mid-August. It recovered slightly after the rate hike

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Financial News

Africa’s first Fairtrade certified gold co-operative offers hope to gold miners living in poverty

Syanyonja Artisan Miners’ Alliance (SAMA) has become the first artisanal small scale mining co-operative in Africa to become Fairtrade certified, bringing much needed hope to impoverished communities who risk their lives to mine the rich gold seam that runs around Lake Victoria.

SAMA is one of nine previously informal groups from Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania which has benefitted from a pilot project launched by Fairtrade in 2013. This innovative program aims to extend the benefits of Fairtrade gold to artisanal miners across East Africa.

In that short time, SAMA has undergone training in business and entrepreneurship, as well as safe use of mercury, internal control systems, labour rights and better working conditions, health and safety and more. Previously, daily contact with toxic chemicals used to process gold meant members risked disease, premature births and even death.  Fairtrade gold was first launched in 2011, and SAMA now joins Fairtrade certified gold mines MACDESA, AURELSA and SOTRAMI in Peru.

The co-operative produces just 5 kg gold per year, but nevertheless has the potential to significantly benefit many people in the local community through better conditions through certification. It is expected that Fairtrade and organizations like Cred Jewellery will support the miners, ensuring their gold can be refined and made available to jewellers in the UK and other markets.

Gonzaga Mungai, Gold Manager at Fairtrade Africa said: “This is a truly momentous and historical achievement and the realisation of a dream that is many years in the making. Gold production is an important source of income for people in rural economies. Congratulations to SAMA, it sets a precedent which shows that if groups like this can achieve certification, then it can work for others right across the African continent.”

The Fairtrade Gold Standard encourages better practice and changes to come in line with international regulation around the production and trade of so-called ‘conflict minerals’. Under the Standard, miners are required to:

  • Uphold a human rights policy preventing war crimes, bribery, money laundering and child labour
  • Clearly represent where the minerals were mined
  • Minimise the risks of conflict minerals through robust risk assessments and collaboration across supply chains
  • Report to buyers and trading partners regarding the risks of conflict minerals

Now in its second phase, the programme will focus on supporting other mining groups in the region to access affordable loans and explore a phased approach to accessing the Fairtrade market, allowing more mining co-operatives across Africa to participate in the programme.

Gonzaga added: “Sourcing African metals from smallscale miners in the Great Lakes Region is the responsible thing to do. For a long time companies have avoided buying gold from this region, with devastating consequences for impoverished communities who were already struggling. It has driven trade deeper underground, as unscrupulous buyers pay lower prices and launder illegal gold into legitimate supply chains. That’s why we have chosen to work with these groups to help them earn more from their gold within a robust compliance system that offers social, environmental, and economic protections.”

The Fairtrade gold programme offers a small but scalable solution to sustainable sourcing of gold from the region in line with Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Act in the US, OECD Due Diligence Guidance and recent EU Supply-Chain Due Diligence proposals which could come into effect in 2016. This means that up to 880,000 EU firms that use tin, tungsten, tantalum and gold in manufacturing consumer products could be obliged to provide information on steps they have taken to identify and address risks in their supply chains for so-called ‘conflict minerals’.

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