cnooc2
Slippery Slope: The erratic behavior of oil futures offers a glimpse into the risks investors face.  Photo: Cnooc

Translated by Andrew Vanburen from: 金融博弈  變幻莫測  炒股切忌賭身家 (中文翻譯, 請閱讀下面)

MARKETS CRAVE STABILITY.

When a country endures a shock, such as a military coup, the local bourse usually bottoms out.

At the same time, global investors usually prefer the greenback over the local currency, seeing it as a safer bet in times of turmoil.

These are relatively predictable outcomes to global crises and generally do not transpire without ample warnings.

Armed takeovers aside, macroeconomic surprises and external shocks also tend to pummel investor confidence – even if the drastic prime rate hike or shocking sovereign debt revelations are oceans away from the capital market in question.

As the saying goes, markets go up, and markets go down.

But when the frequency of such gyrations intensifies during volatile economic times, un unsettlingly large sampling of investors often throw caution to the wind and transform overnight into reckless gamblers with their money, perhaps taking a devil-may-care Armageddon-like attitude toward the bourse.

That is not the way to go, I would strongly contend.

You’ll find the most avid fans of Premier League football spending their idle hours before games boning up on the latest injury reports, red card layovers, matchup histories with opponents, as well as weather conditions before placing a wager on their pick.

In the same way, you can find retired pensioners in Hong Kong at one of the two major tracks squandering away their children’s inheritance on their favorite pony – whom they may know more about than their own progeny.

But unlike betting win, place or show on the horses, financial markets are a completely different animal altogether, and arguably much less predictable.

Let’s take the recent behavior of crude oil futures as an example.

Usually, the segment would be promoted as a safe, staple and stable bet which would then overreact with a price spike amid any global shock only to elicit a spurt of overproduction which would quickly erase price advantages for investors.

Nowadays, the crisis wracking Europe is showing no signs of abating and stock markets there are in the doldrums with crude oil futures floating at relatively high levels and trending upward.

Normally, this would mean purchases of oil futures under this scenario would bring more value to the investor.

Unfortunately, these are not “normal” times.

It seemed the perfect time to offload, which I did.

sinopec_station
No Laughing Matter: Oil futures are a volatile bet. Photo: Sinopec

But no sooner had I cleared my crude oil futures, thinking a near-term nadir had been achieved, when up went to price once again, and in no uncertain terms.

The price per barrel quickly surged to 103 usd.

But this spurt, it turns out, had little to do with the intensifying sovereign debt impasse in the EU. Nor was there any major announcement from the principals via OPEC or any other group as to a sudden change in production volumes.

Instead, as the crude gods would have it, a long-simmering story that had been cruising under the radar for so long finally broke through and made headlines again, taking oil prices along with it for the ride.

The US is still the world’s top consumer of petroleum, and the biggest supplier to the States remains its northern neighbor Canada.

Therefore, any jolt to this longstanding commercial tandem is bound to send shockwaves throughout the industry, and that is precisely what happened recently.

The Obama Administration, caving to what many claim are environmental special interests, opted against a plan by Calgary-based TransCanada Pipelines to build a pipeline linking the western Canadian province of Alberta with the Gulf of Mexico.

The project’s value was in the billions of dollars and would have meant thousands of jobs on US soil.

Instead, a smitten Canada said it would consider running the pipeline west to British Columbia where Chinese tankers were more than eager to ship it off to the People’s Republic.

The sudden rejection and resulting stalemate in the proposed pipeline project took the global industry by surprise, and once again exemplified how risky and unpredictable financial markets are, by nature.

See also:

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金融博弈  變幻莫測  炒股切忌賭身家


一向喜以踢波、跑馬的賠率角度,去理解投機,判斷值博率。

但金融市場的博弈,與球場或馬場,是有分別。近日操作原油期貨一役,可為一例。

往常的習慣,是推敲市場風險胃納,恐慌時沽期油,對沖股票持倉。近日歐債危機又再升溫,股市下挫,期油卻在高位,愈升愈有,正常情況下,沽油是愈來愈值博。可惜,這次不一樣。

Alex_Wong
黃國英, 豐盛融資資產管理部董事

出手之後,期油發力再挾,急急逃走,幸好夠快了斷,之後衝至$103美元,如果死坐,唔係講玩。大升緣由,絕非歐債危機有何起色,同期股市,仍是照跌如儀。平倉後一天,才得知真相:股挫沽油對沖損手自己炒紐約期油,在美國中西部結算。已有一段時間,比在北海結算的布蘭特期油,價低一截。原因是紐約期油結算地供過於求:加拿大油沙的產油,增加供應;由於地理問題,出口不成;就近煉油廠,需求有限,所以長期壓低。實體經濟玩家,早轉用布蘭特;紐約期油,多用以投機。高峰時期,紐約、布蘭特期油,差價超過二十美元。

或許物極必反,終有油公司決定,收購連接中西部與墨西哥灣的一條管道,並將運油方向倒轉,由輸往中西部,改為自當地輸出。供求上的變動,雖然不是即時發生,但消息一出,由於算是結構性改變,即時引發一輪急升。而很多賭紐約、布蘭特期油差價擴闊的倉位,也要雞咁腳拆倉,當然是火乘風勢。

那是否將分析重心,放在供求上,便可保平安?也不是。年初北非、中東亂局,政府相繼倒台,科威特、沙地狂派錢平息民怨,油價一度大升。但到利比亞全面內戰,實際影響供應,市場卻將焦點,放回歐債,油價不升反跌。關注重心,是可以隨時改變。

投機與波、馬的不同,是因為波、馬是封閉系統,落注一刻,規矩已定。例如買波,十一打十一,限時作賽,入波多過人就贏,不會突然在開波時,才公布原來是十一打廿一,對家人數突然翻倍,圍住龍門狂射。果真如此,無論之前賠率,有多吸引,也是枉然。炒賣亦然,落注時沒有設定規矩:「歐債危機紓緩,輸;市場恐慌持續,贏」,而是可以突然將勝負,與供求突變的預期掛鈎。

炒股不同賭波馬

這並不代表以後只可盲賭靠運,分析可以照做,信心可以有,但不要爆棚,認為資產價格,一定按自己的分析架構運行。完全有機會出現從沒想到,或早已排除可能的因素,死灰復燃,帶來衝擊。亦由於錯誤的機會率,和出錯時的損失,可能比原先的分析架構嚴重,所以不論賠率如何吸引,都千萬不要賭身家。投機前,必先設定止蝕價,以在分析正確,卻不是焦點,而走勢相反時,及早逃生。不要在走勢不利時,再去找不同證據,「證明」早前分析正確。到最終得知,原來成因根本不在視線範圍,經已太遲。

See also:

MENCAST: Side-Steps Shipping Downturn With Oil & Gas Foray

ZHONGMIN BAIHUI, UNITED ENVIROTECH, XPRESS: Latest Happenings…

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