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Petroleum spreads and the term structure of futures prices

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We employ the term structure of gasoline and heating oil prices, proxied by convenience yields, to explain the variation in the spread between the prices of gasoline and crude oil and the prices of heating oil and crude oil. We demonstrate that the marginal convenience yields in the gasoline and heating oil markets explained much of the variation in the spreads between 1986 and 1999. The evidence indicates the importance of a disaggregated treatment of the term structure of prices: the convenience yield is found to explain a substantially higher amount of the variation in the spread when it is decomposed by maturity, even after controls for seasonality and inventory levels are implemented. These findings support the notion that the futures term structure contains information beyond what can be garnered via obvious or easily available proxies of current supply and demand. The findings are also supported in an alternate specification that tests for the origins of information spillover (leadership) between the commodities: it is demonstrated that decomposed convenience yields explain a substantial portion of the volatility spillover from the gasoline and heating oil markets to the crude market.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: School of Business, University of Portland, Portland, USA 2: Department of Economics, Hong Kong University, Hong Kong 3: Systems and Industrial Engineering Department, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona 85721-0020, USA

Publication date: 2006-09-10

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