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Stocks  | December 20, 2018

Oil prices fell to a 14-month low on Dec 18 on investors’ concerns over global economic growth. Several macroeconomic issues such as U.S.-China trade war, Brexit and Italian budget negotiation that influenced U.S. equity markets affected oil markets as well, dragging crude oil prices below $50 for the first time since October 2017.

What is Dragging Oil Prices Down?

Rise in U.S. crude oil inventories and anticipated increase in shell oil production dragged oil prices lower this week. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), oil production from the United State’s seven largest shell areas could be more than 8 million barrels per day (bpd) this year and could even hit 8.1 bpd in January 2019.

Rising tensions over a global economic slowdown in 2019 also pushed oil prices lower. Crude oil prices dropped 4% on Dec 17 and 7% on Dec 18. West Texas Intermediate fell below $47 per barrel and Brent Crude dropped to $56.

"As usual oil markets are all about the basics of supply and demand, so when excess amount crosses paths with a bearish global growth outlook, it provides an exceedingly bearish signal for oil prices which have only one place to go, and that's down," Stephen Innes, head of Asia Pacific trading at Oanda, said.

Innes added, "Market struggling for direction, oil prices were very prone to shifts in risk aversion, but when global growth concerns trigger risk off it’s hugely negatively impactful for oil prices.”The crash in oil prices was made prominent by the sharp broader sell-off in the global equity markets in recent weeks.

Oil Prices Likely to Fall Further

Oil prices are expected to slide further in the coming weeks, according to consensus, a CNBC report cited earlier this week. The latest round of sell-offs in the energy markets gained momentum amid EIA’s report of overflowing inventories and forecasts of increase in U.S. oil output.

According to a research report by PVM Oil Associates on Dec 18, "There are lots of variables regarding next year's oil balance but based on available data, information and sentiment, it is fair to say that any price rally will be met by fierce resistance from the sellers' side.”

A UBS report on Dec 17 noted that energy markets had stabilized in 2018 but underwent a change since October.

"Uncertainty and volatility reign once again," the report cited.

Industries that Could Benefit From Oil’s Dip

Oil is one of those commodities that is directly or indirectly part of almost every aspect of modern life. The decline in oil prices could benefit a wide range of industries that use oil as the key input. Among others, businesses that process crude oil or manufacture petroleum-based products will most likely benefit.

4 Stocks to Buy

We have handpicked some chemical and cosmetics stocks that could benefit from low oil prices.

Celanese Corporation is a specialty materials and technology company that manufactures chemicals, thermoplastic polymers and an array of chemical-based products globally. Its expected earnings growth rate for the current year is 47.9% compared with the Zacks Chemical - Specialty industry’s projected rise of 12.2%. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the company’s current-year earnings has risen 3.4% in the past two months.

W.R. Grace & Co. manufactures and markets specialty chemicals and materials. The company’s expected earnings growth rate for the current year is 17.9% compared with the Zacks Chemical - Specialty industry’s projected rise of 12.2%. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for W.R. Grace & Co current-year earnings has risen 1.5% in the past 60 days.

Israel Chemicals Shs manufactures specialty fertilizers and a wide range of mineral-based products. Its expected earnings growth rate for the current year is 19.4% compared with the Zacks Chemical - Specialty industry’s projected rise of 12.2%. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the company’s current-year earnings has risen 8.8% in the past two months.

The Estee Lauder Companies Inc. manufactures and markets personal care products that include a wide range of skin care, hair, fragrance and makeup products etc. Its expected earnings growth rate for the current year is 7.1% compared with the Zacks Cosmetics industry’s projected rise of 4.1%. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for Estee Lauder’s current-year earnings has risen 1.7% in the past 60 days.


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