Dow Ends the Week With a Loss; Chevron, Exxon Mobil Gain on Oil's Rise

On Thursday, the Dow Jones Industrials (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) finished the holiday-shortened week with a modest loss of 16 points, as a mix of good and bad news on the earnings front held the Dow within a fairly narrow trading range. But in the energy sector, the mood was more optimistic, as rising oil prices helped lift shares of Chevron (NYSE: CVX  ) and ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM  ) higher on the day.

Why oil's moving
Oil futures closed at their highest levels since early March, with West Texas Intermediate settling above $104 per barrel. Most energy analysts pinned the move upward on two main factors: geopolitical turmoil in Ukraine, and strong economic conditions in the U.S. that could boost demand for energy. With the long holiday weekend for U.S. markets, short-term-minded traders seemed reluctant to make bearish bets on crude oil just in case tensions heat up between Russia and Ukraine.

WTI Crude Oil Spot Price Chart

WTI Crude Oil Spot Price data by YCharts.

Interestingly, though, market participants appear to be ready for potential supply disruptions that could result if outright conflict erupts in the Black Sea region. Oil inventories rose by the largest amount in more than a decade, and with the huge boost in domestic production resulting from success in shale oil plays and other unconventional production methods, supply in the domestic market should be secure for at least the immediate future.

What it means for Exxon and Chevron
The price of oil is a key factor for the two oil giants in the Dow Jones Industrials. With both ExxonMobil and Chevron having struggled to find new sources of production to keep overall volume growing, rising prices will make an essential contribution to revenue and profit growth. If prices hold above the $100 per-barrel level, then, as the chart shows, it should provide Chevron and ExxonMobil with favorable comparisons versus last year's price range in the low $90s.

Longer term, though, the real problem for the Dow Jones Industrials' energy contingent could come in the summer months. Spot prices spiked last year during the third quarter, and that will give ExxonMobil and Chevron difficult third-quarter comparisons. The resulting pressure on revenue could spook investors, who've already had to deal with the threat of lower sales due to production challenges.

The real question for Exxon, Chevron, and the Dow is whether any ease in geopolitical tension would bring oil prices crashing back down through the $100 per-barrel level. If the global economy keeps recovering, then oil might hold onto its recent gains -- and that could be even better news for energy investors and for the Dow Jones Industrials on the whole.

Three stock picks to ride America's energy bonanza
Record oil and natural gas production is revolutionizing the United States' energy position. Finding the right plays, while historic amounts of capital expenditures are flooding the industry, will pad your investment nest egg. For this reason, the Motley Fool is offering a look at three energy companies using a small IRS "loophole" to help line investor pockets. Learn this strategy, and the energy companies taking advantage, in our special report, "The IRS Is Daring You To Make This Energy Investment." Don't miss out on this timely opportunity; click here to access your report -- it's absolutely free. 


Read/Post Comments (1) | Recommend This Article (0)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

Add your comment.

Sponsored Links

Leaked: Apple's Next Smart Device
(Warning, it may shock you)
The secret is out... experts are predicting 458 million of these types of devices will be sold per year. 1 hyper-growth company stands to rake in maximum profit - and it's NOT Apple. Show me Apple's new smart gizmo!

DocumentId: 2919956, ~/Articles/ArticleHandler.aspx, 12/19/2014 3:54:53 AM

Report This Comment

Use this area to report a comment that you believe is in violation of the community guidelines. Our team will review the entry and take any appropriate action.

Sending report...


Advertisement