Oil’s Magic Numbers

Round numbers enjoy an enduring and somewhat mystifying popularity in markets. A few years ago, the oil market had a very round and pleasing one in the form of $100. These days, it makes do with $50.

Even this diminished level has a talismanic potency. On Monday, Wood Mackenzie, an energy consultancy, announced that oil companies rushed to add hedges on their production in the last three months of 2016 at a faster pace than the previous four quarters, based on its analysis of 33 large producers.

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