After dipping as low as $45.58 in late August, WTI crude oil prices are once again knocking on the door of $50/bbl. Oil has had a bumpy ride since its 2014 sell-off, but its trading range has narrowed to between around $42/bbl and $55/bbl in the past year.
Hurricane Harvey didnt have much of a lasting impact on U.S. oil prices. Despite Harvey temporarily knocking out roughly 15 percent of the nations total crude oil refining capacity, WTI prices have been on the rise throughout the month of September and are now testing $50 resistance that served as a short-term top in late July.
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Oil appears to be settling into a narrower trading range over the past year after swinging from a 2014 high of $107.68/bbl to a 2016 low of $26.05/bbl. In the past 12 months, WTI has twice bounced off the $42 level, but hasnt dipped lower than $45 since June. The $55 resistance level held twice in early 2017 and hasnt been tested since. WTI climbed as high as $53.76 in April and $52.00 in May.
However, oil bulls have reason for optimism that a re-test of $55 could be coming. After making a series of lower highs from February to August, crude oils latest move may be a breakout to the upside.
If WTI can push to $51 or higher in the next several days, is could be just a matter of time before $55 is back in play. Of course, every move higher in oil prices in recent years has been met with an uptick in U.S. shale production that compounds any technical resistance in the charts.
So far in 2017, oil investors optimism has not been rewarded. The United States Oil Fund LP (ETF) (NYSE:USO) is down another 13.4 percent year to date.
Joel Elconin contributed to this story.
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