Last week, the group of oil producing nations that makes up the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) cartel agreed to extend production through the end of 2018. The production limits are an effort to increase the price of oil and generate badly needed revenue for the OPEC nations.
According to Bloomberg, the meeting of OPEC nations was a success. The news service noted that the growing global economy and production cuts have helped push up oil prices. But the problem now is how to keep prices high without stimulating further growth in US shale oil production.
Many analysts believe shale production will increase when oil tops $ 60 a barrel since that is the level where the wells are profitable. These analysts also believe there are a number of well heads ready to be turned on whenever prices are high.
Or as an oil analyst with the Boston Consulting Group, said, "For now, the OPEC-Russia bromance continues."
The outlook for oil now is that prices are likely to remain in a range. This is the pattern that has existed for nearly two years now.
That means we are likely to see a similar pattern in US shale producers since oil and gas companies tend to show a high degree of correlation with the price of oil.
Among the large cap shale producers is Hess Corporation (NYSE: HES). Hess has made significant investments in these unconventional oil and gas plays. The company first moved into the Bakken Formation in North Dakota, one of the first US tight oil plays.
More recently, Hess has expanded into the Utica Formation in Ohio, an emerging shale gas play. Oil and gas from these plays now about 45% of Hess' total operated production.
One options strategy that benefits from a stock in a trading range is an iron condor. This strategy has the added benefit of carrying limited risk. To open an iron condor trade, the investor sells one call while buying another call with a higher exercise price and sells one put while buying another put with a lower exercise price. Typically, the prices of the prices are below the market price of the stock and the prices of the put options are below the current price of the underlying stock.
In an iron condor the difference between the exercise of the prices of the two call options will be equal to the difference between the exercise of the two put options. The final requirement for this strategy is that all of the options must have the same expiration date.
The iron condor is an example of how options are a versatile tool and could meet many of your trading objectives. In this trade, options provide income and defined risk that should be lower than owning the stock.