Oil prices briefly shot up more than $25 a barrel Monday, shattering the record for the biggest one-day gain ever as Wall Street worried about the government’s $700 billion bailout plan. The concerns caused oil to spike and the dollar fell sharply which led to the sharp rise in gold. This all took a toll on the market as the Dow fell 373 points to finish at 11,015. There went Friday’s gains.
Oil jumped as high as $130 a barrel before falling back to settle at $121. A big reason for the jump was the expiration of the Obcotober contracts which expired at the end of the day. This clearly added to the volatility as traders rushed to cover positions.
What was interesting was the fact that the severity of the price move prompted the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission to launch an investigation into whether illegal manipulation was to blame. This has been a topic of interest for quite some time and I always say where there’s smoke, there’s fire.
If you were short oil over the past few months then you probably did well up until the last few days. Oil has gained nearly $30 over the past four trading sessions. The U.S. Oil Fund (USO, $87.62, up $4.99) which tracks prices of West Texas light, sweet crude oil gained 6% yesterday and the iPath Crude Oil ETN (OIL, $64.57, up $3.40) also traded higher.
In other trading, the weaker dollar helped gold prices surge more than $44 to settle at $909 an ounce. It seems that commodities are catching fire because of a general weakness in the dollar. The jump in gold sent gold stocks and options soaring. Take a look at some of the returns from Monday:
Barrick Gold (ABX, $38.14, up $3.04)
October 40 call (ABXJH, $2.20, up $1.20), or 120%
Goldcorp (GG, $36.29, up $4.11)
October 37.50 call (GGJU, $2.10, up $1.20, or 133%
Gold Fields (GFI, $9.72, up $1.16)
October 10 call (GFIJB, $0.91, up $0.51), or 128%
Newmont Mining (NEM, $44.43, up $2.48)
October 45 call (NEMJI, $2.50, up $0.85), or 52%
I mentioned on September 3 that gold was getting cheap and many of these stocks and options were much lower. The October options I’ve listed may have more room to run if gold continues its rally but as we have seen with this market it’s hard to say what’s next.