Oil Prices Have Bottomed as Producers Cut Output

The International Energy Association said this morning that oil prices may have bottomed. The reason? Supply and demand. “There are clear signs that market forces… are working their magic and higher cost producers are cutting their output,” the Paris-based agency said.

Chief among those higher-cost producers is the United States, where production is expected to be down 530,000 barrels a day in 2016. Because of the economics of fracking, production in the U.S. was “sticky” last year, but now is falling fast. That’s turning out to be a far bigger factor than Iran’s return to the market, which appears only to have increased production by 220,000 barrels a day. For those of us who came of age during oil crises, the notion that the U.S. is now the marginal producer, and that prices are being determined by market forces rather than Middle East wars and deals, is a miracle to behold.

Also miraculous was last night’s Republican debate, which focused mainly on substantive issues of foreign and domestic policy. Donald Trump stood by his statement that “Islam hates us,” and also called the China’s Tianamen Square protests a “riot.” None of that seems likely to slow his march to the Republican nomination.

And while the campaign debates got calmer, the rhetoric between Apple (AAPL) and the Justice Department heated up yesterday, with Justice calling Apple’s rhetoric “corrosive,” and Apple responding that Justice has “thrown all decorum to the wind.” Could we take this argument to a back room, please?

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