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US crude oil is one of the world's most valuable commodities available for trade. Also known as West Texas Intermediate (WTI) or Texas light sweet, it is a popular investment tool used by international investors seeking true asset class diversification in their portfolio. The commodity is often seen as a hedge against any financial uncertainty, inflation, deflation or currency devaluation.
WTI is a benchmark that serves as a reference price for sellers and buyers of crude oil across the United States. Due to its relatively low density and low sulphur content, it is generally considered lighter and sweeter than Brent, making it ideal for gasoline refining.
According to the historical US crude oil chart, the commodity reached a record low of $11 in December 1998 and a record high of $147.27 in June 2008.
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US crude oil is a blend of several American streams of light sweet crude oils. It is sourced from several oil fields, including those in Texas, North Dakota and Louisiana, and refined in the Midwest and Gulf Coast regions. Cushing, Oklahoma, is the major trading hub for US crude oil.
Even though WTI is considered the highest-quality light sweet crude available, it is not the most used oil worldwide. This is due to the land-locked supply allocation, which makes its transportation around the globe more difficult and expensive than that of water-borne Brent.
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With regard to the price of US crude oil, the commodity has witnessed a lot of volatility throughout its history, hitting some dramatic peaks and bottoms.
For many decades, due to its unique properties, US crude oil had traded at a dollar or two premium to Brent and the OPEC basket. However, because of the following Shale Revolution in the early 2000s, when WTI production increased, and more imports to the US from Canada, the commodity has started trading at a discount against its major counterparts.
At the start of 1999, it stood as low as $12 a barrel. During the following years, it had climbed steadily until it reached its all-time high of more than $147 a barrel in mid-2008. However, the bullish trend reversed in the second half of the same year, with the crude oil spot price falling as low as $37.80 a barrel in early 2009.
In 2017, the average price for WTI crude oil stood at $50.84 per barrel; in 2018 – at around $67.22. As for 2019, the commodity ended the year at $61 a barrel.
In general, the US crude oil rate significantly relies on the wider performance of the US economy. In addition, as with any other traded commodity, its value depends on the basic laws of supply and demand. For example, when supplies are tight, you can expect the price of oil to rise.
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