Believe it or not, oil is back in a bull market

A new dawn?
A new dawn?
Image: Reuters/Sergei Karpukhin
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It may have been wrong to call oil’s rise a dead cat bounce last week.

Everyone’s favorite cratering commodity has actually been having a pretty good run since Jan. 20. Brent crude today (Jan. 28) rose above $35 per barrel for the first time in about three weeks on news that OPEC and Russia might finally curtail their contribution to the overproduction that has the world awash in oil. That was enough to technically put oil in a bull market, trading at 20% higher than its recent lows.

Spurring today’s rally: Reuters is reporting that Russia’s oil minister said Saudi Arabia proposed cutting production by 5%. It’s all just hearsay for now, but after oil markets last lost their sense of optimism following a US government report showing domestic crude stockpiles were rising ever higher, news of a possible pullback somewhere—anywhere—likely came as welcome news.

Ever since OPEC started beefing with US oil producers back in 2014, there’s been a lot of volatility in commodities markets. Most of that volatility has been in the speed of the downturn in prices, but there have been a couple bull markets in the interim. In fact, there was one underway this time last year. From Quartz’s own Jason Karaian’s piece on it, some words of wisdom:

Big oil companies have recently cut investment plans, shelved share buybacks, and idled rigs to conserve cash in response to seven months of falling prices. These subdued spending plans seem to have sparked the euphoria among traders. But just as few expected the cost of oil to drop so far so fast, it would be crazy to think this upturn marks the beginning of a steady march back up above $100 a barrel. Wouldn’t it?