IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

The impact of fundamental and financial traders on the term structure of oil


  • Heidorn, Thomas
  • Mokinski, Frieder
  • Rühl, Christoph
  • Schmaltz, Christian


We study how the exposure of fundamental and financial traders affects the futures curve of WTI oil and the market integration between WTI and Brent as measured by their price spread. To obtain a parsimonious representation of the futures curve, we decompose it into a level-, a slope- and a curvature factor. In a second step, we separately regress each extracted factor on measures of the market exposure of fundamental and financial traders revealing whether and how the exposure of the two trader groups affects the different dimensions of the futures curve. Spanning from 2006 until 2012, our dataset covers sub-periods of a sharp WTI-price rise as well as a diverging Brent-WTI-spread. Our contribution is threefold: First, we suggest that it is important to distinguish between level and slope as we find that fundamental traders have a measurable impact on the level of the futures curve, but do not play much of a role for its slope or curvature, whereas the exposure of financial traders mainly influences the slope of the futures curve. Despite allegations to the contrary, we find no evidence of a systematic impact of non-fundamental traders on the level of the futures curve, for example during the 2006-2008 oil price surge. Second, we suggest using relative short- and relative long positions for fundamental and financial traders instead of the net position as the former reflect better the overall group exposure and yield more significant results. Third, we find that the exposure of financials is the key driver of the Brent-WTI spread. It confirms that financial rather than fun-damental traders are responsible for integrating the two markets.

Suggested Citation

  • Heidorn, Thomas & Mokinski, Frieder & Rühl, Christoph & Schmaltz, Christian, 2014. "The impact of fundamental and financial traders on the term structure of oil," Frankfurt School - Working Paper Series 209, Frankfurt School of Finance and Management.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:fsfmwp:209

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Diebold, Francis X. & Li, Canlin, 2006. "Forecasting the term structure of government bond yields," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 130(2), pages 337-364, February.
    2. Tokic, Damir, 2011. "Rational destabilizing speculation, positive feedback trading, and the oil bubble of 2008," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(4), pages 2051-2061, April.
    3. Ing-Haw Cheng & Andrei Kirilenko & Wei Xiong, 2015. "Convective Risk Flows in Commodity Futures Markets," Review of Finance, European Finance Association, vol. 19(5), pages 1733-1781.
    4. Irwin, Scott H. & Sanders, Dwight R., 2012. "Testing the Masters Hypothesis in commodity futures markets," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 256-269.
    5. Jacks, David S., 2007. "Populists versus theorists: Futures markets and the volatility of prices," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 44(2), pages 342-362, April.
    6. Bahattin Buyuksahin & Jeffrey H. Harris, 2011. "Do Speculators Drive Crude Oil Futures Prices?," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 2), pages 167-202.
    7. Nelson, Charles R & Siegel, Andrew F, 1987. "Parsimonious Modeling of Yield Curves," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 60(4), pages 473-489, October.
    8. Diebold, Francis X. & Rudebusch, Glenn D. & Borag[caron]an Aruoba, S., 2006. "The macroeconomy and the yield curve: a dynamic latent factor approach," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 131(1-2), pages 309-338.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Baruník, Jozef & Malinská, Barbora, 2016. "Forecasting the term structure of crude oil futures prices with neural networks," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 164(C), pages 366-379.
    2. Liu, Li & Wang, Yudong & Wu, Chongfeng & Wu, Wenfeng, 2016. "Disentangling the determinants of real oil prices," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(C), pages 363-373.

    More about this item


    WTI; Price speculation; Oil price rise; Market Integration;

    JEL classification:

    • Q40 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - General
    • G13 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Contingent Pricing; Futures Pricing

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:zbw:fsfmwp:209. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (ZBW - German National Library of Economics). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.