Oil’s back up above $90 a barrel again. Seems like late September it was in the upper $70s.

Surprised? Don’t be: It’s those old fundamentals again.

According to an article in Bloomberg, oil gained more this past October than any other month in the last two years “on speculation that a recovering economy will boost energy demand and reduce supplies.”

Backing that up, the Commerce Department revealed that the U.S. economy grew faster in the third quarter (2.5 percent) than at any other time in over a year. And just [days ago] the Fed decided to leave interest rates alone, as it said the economy continues to strengthen.

[ad#Google Adsense 336×280-IA]That’s bullish for oil and, to a lesser extent, natural gas. A recovering U.S. economy will gradually use more energy. The short-term volatility in oil prices may continue, but they’re ultimately headed one way: up. You don’t need much in the way of incremental demand to tighten the supply, and to continue to drive prices higher.

Oil inventories in the United States reached a 20-month low of 333 million barrels during the week of October 14, according to the Department of Energy.

But America isn’t the only country starting to use more oil. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA) figures, oil inventories are down 12.7 percent for September for the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) nations as a group.

United Arab Emirates Energy Minister Mohammed al-Hamli commented on Monday that oil selling in the $80-to-$100-a-barrel range is “reasonable.” It remains to be seen what OPEC will do regarding its output levels when it meets to discuss its production policies on December 14 in Vienna.

Regardless of what OPEC decides, there’s little spare capacity on the supply side. It’s estimated to be about two million barrels per day, and Saudi Arabia has most of that.

The best way to play the continued rise in oil is to buy the independent oil producers on dips in the market. Given its recent volatility, dips are relatively easy to come by.

Companies like Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE: RDS.A), ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM), Anadarko Petroleum (NYSE: APC), Eni S.p.A. (NYSE: E), and BP (NYSE: BP) are all good bets when the market gets hammered. Ignore the day-to-day fluctuations in price. The long-term trend for oil is one way: up.

Good investing,

— David Fessler

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Source:  Investment U