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Oil is a very good choice of financial instrument to trade because it is a huge and highly liquid market and there are a wide variety of instruments to choose from when investing and trading. It is also easy to access the market via broker platforms. In addition, there is a huge amount of educational information on the factors that move the market and the strategies that you can implement to benefit from the resulting price movements.

These are the best brokers for trading oil in South Africa for 2022.

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Broker
Overall Rating
Official Site
Oil CFDs
Min. Deposit
FSCA Regulated
Beginner Friendly
Total CFDs
Trading Platforms
MetaTrader 4 (MT4)
MetaTrader 5 (MT5)
cTrader
Proprietary Platform
Regulated By
Compare
IG Markets
4.69 /5
Read Review
Visit Broker >
Your capital is at risk
USD 250
Excellent
19295
11110.54.5/ 5
FCA Regulated Brokers
ASIC Regulated Forex Brokers
Bundesanstalt für Finanzdienstleistungsaufsicht
Financial Markets Authority of New Zealand
Dubai Financial Services Authority
Financial Services Agency
Commodity Futures Trading Association
Finansinspektionen
FXTM
4.33 /5
Read Review
Visit Broker >
Your capital is at risk
USD 10
Excellent
795
11110.54.5/ 5
CySEC Regulated Brokers
FCA Regulated Brokers
FSCA Regulated Forex Brokers
Financial Services Commission
AvaTrade
4.48 /5
Read Review
Visit Broker >
Your capital is at risk
ZAR 1500
Excellent
872
11110.54.5/ 5
ASIC Regulated Forex Brokers
FSCA Regulated Forex Brokers
British Virgin Islands Financial Services Commission
Financial Services Agency
CySEC Regulated Brokers
Central Bank of Ireland
Pepperstone
4.61 /5
Read Review
Visit Broker >
Your capital is at risk
USD 5
Excellent
1129
111115/ 5
FCA Regulated Brokers
ASIC Regulated Forex Brokers
CySEC Regulated Brokers
Dubai Financial Services Authority
Capital.com
4.68 /5
Read Review
Visit Broker >
Your capital is at risk
USD 20
Excellent
4027
11110.54.5/ 5
FCA Regulated Brokers
CySEC Regulated Brokers
ASIC Regulated Forex Brokers
Markets.com
4.49 /5
Read Review
Visit Broker >
Your capital is at risk
ZAR 2500
Excellent
2235
11110.54.5/ 5
FCA Regulated Brokers
CySEC Regulated Brokers
ASIC Regulated Forex Brokers
FSCA Regulated Forex Brokers
Axi
4.34 /5
Read Review
Visit Broker >
Your capital is at risk
USD 5
Excellent
183
111104/ 5
FCA Regulated Brokers
ASIC Regulated Forex Brokers
Financial Markets Authority of New Zealand
Dubai Financial Services Authority
Tickmill
4.48 /5
Read Review
Visit Broker >
Your capital is at risk
USD 100
Excellent
91
11110.54.5/ 5
CySEC Regulated Brokers
FCA Regulated Brokers
Labuan Financial Services Authority
FSCA Regulated Forex Brokers
The Seychelles Financial Services Authority
BDSwiss
4.32 /5
Read Review
Visit Broker >
Your capital is at risk
USD 10
Excellent
234
11110.54.5/ 5
CySEC Regulated Brokers
Financial Services Commission
The Seychelles Financial Services Authority

Introduction to oil trading

Oil has a unique position in financial markets and offers exciting opportunities for traders. It is the lifeblood of the global economy and is likely to remain so for decades to come, despite advances in the use of renewable energies. Not only is oil a key source of energy for vehicles, planes, heating and electricity, but petroleum is also used in plastics, paints, chemicals, tape and many other industries.

The global economy’s dependence on oil makes it one of the most widely traded and liquid financial markets. That unique position also means the price of oil is influenced by a wide range of factors, from the state of the global economy to geopolitical developments and even the weather. That, of course, creates volatility and provides opportunities for traders to benefit from short-, medium- and long-term strategies.

What is oil trading?

Advances in technology have made it relatively easy to earn a living by trading oil from your laptop or desktop computer at home, or even from a mobile phone or other portable devices on the go. There are many brokers to choose from, and their platforms not only allow you to access the global market and interact with buyers and sellers, but also provide educational material, charts and technical data, newsfeeds carrying information that can sway the price of oil, and a host of other information.

In other words, you can access all the tools you need to trade oil successfully just as easily as the professional traders who work in offices for large financial institutions. However, you can’t just switch on your computer, watch a couple of videos on YouTube and make money instantly. It can take months or even years to become a successful trader, and it requires a willingness to learn, discipline, hard work and the right temperament.

Why trade oil CFDs?

It is possible to gain exposure to the price of oil and profit from its ups and downs using many instruments. You could, for example, simply buy shares in one of the major oil producers, such as Shell, BP, Exxon etc. However, although the price of oil exerts a significant influence on these companies’ share prices, other factors also play a role, and many of the major oil companies are increasing their focus on renewables. The cost of buying shares regularly can also be prohibitive.

Exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and other funds are other options. There is a huge range of ETFs on the market that track the price of oil. Again, however, trading these ETFs regularly can be expensive and can consume any profits you make from the trading itself.

That is partly why we recommend using Contracts for Difference (CFDs) when trading oil and other commodities such as gold and silver.

CFDs are one of the most popular ways of trading oil, and it is easy to see why given all the advantages they offer. CFDs allow traders to bet on short-term price movements in a wide variety of financial assets, from currencies to shares to cryptocurrencies, without actually owning or taking physical delivery of the assets. They are contracts between a buyer (such as an individual trader) and a seller (such as a broker, investment bank or spread-betting firm), under which the two parties agree to exchange the difference in the value of an underlying financial instrument between the time the contract opens and the time it closes – often over less than one day.

CFDs benefit from several features that make them uniquely valuable to individual traders.

Convenience

A CFD is known as a derivative product, because it derives its price from an underlying instrument or product, in this case, oil. CFDs allow you to trade the underlying asset (e.g. the price of oil) without taking physical ownership of the commodity, which is a very good thing in the case of a bulky product like oil. However, even if you don’t physically own the oil, you still get to enjoy any gains.

Maximise your potential gains through leverage

Moreover, CFDs are leveraged products, so you don’t have to deposit the full value of a trade to open a position. The deposit is called your margin, and oil CFDs tend to come with high levels of leverage, which translates into low margin requirements. So, if your broker offers you 50:1 leverage on a US$50,000 CFD position in oil, you will be required to deposit only US$1000 into your account to open the full US$50,000 contract. This means that you can gain significant exposure to the oil market for only a fraction of the amount you would need to buy physical oil.

For example, imagine that a trader believes the price of oil is about to go up. They enter into a contract with a CFD broker, agreeing to buy US$50,000 in an oil CFD contract. But the broker lets the trader put up just 5 per cent of the US$50,000 overall value of the contract, or US$2500. (In this example, the broker is offering 20:1 leverage.) The price of oil rises by 10 per cent, so the overall value of the contract increases to US$55,000, giving the trader an overall profit of US$5000 over the day, double his US$2500 outlay.

Profit from falling and rising markets

You can use CFDs to bet that the price of oil will rise (called going “long” in the jargon) or that it will fall (when you take out a “short” position). The latter involves selling CFDs you don’t actually own and then buying them after the price falls, so that you can complete the contract you made to sell them at the higher initial price.

Suppose you believe the oil price will fall. You agree to sell a US$50,000 oil contract in the belief that you will be able to buy it back later in the day at a lower price. Again, you do so using the 20:1 leverage offered by the broker, so your initial outlay is just US$2500. By the end of the trading day, the price of oil has indeed fallen, and your contract is now worth US$45,000. That is when you step in and buy to fulfil your earlier agreement to sell the contract at US$50,000. Again, you have made US$5000, double your initial outlay.

Moreover, there are no limits on using CFDs to short financial instruments. By contrast, some markets have rules that prohibit shorting or require the trader to borrow the instrument before selling short, or have different margin requirements for short and long positions, making it difficult to balance positions.

Flexibility

You can close a position at any time during the trading day. This means that you can hold a position for as long as you want, be it seconds, minutes or hours. You can even hold a position overnight, although there will be a charge for doing so.

Moreover, many brokers offer a variety of options when it comes to trade size, allowing a wide range of traders to access the market. This includes beginners and casual traders seeking to experiment with investment strategies while limiting their risk by focusing on small trades.

Ability to hedge

Most people are familiar with the term “hedging your bets” and understand that it involves offsetting risks. Well, it means exactly the same thing in the financial world and is derived from the age-old idea of using a hedge – or fence – as a means of protection. In this instance, you can use CFDs as a way of offsetting your trading positions with balancing trades in case your beliefs about whether those initial positions are likely to rise or fall prove wrong.

CFDs are ideal hedging tools because you can use them to bet that an instrument will rise or fall at a relatively low cost. So, you can take a long position in oil that will profit should the price rise, while taking out a short position that will prove profitable should the price fall. In other words, instead of selling oil at a loss should your expectation of the price moving higher prove wrong (and draining your limited financial resources in the process), you can open an additional short position that will generate earnings to help offset any losses from your initial position.

You can also use CFDs to insure against a rise or fall in any investment you have other than CFDs. Suppose, for example, you have a standard portfolio of shares in global equities that you wish to keep invested for the long term. Now imagine you anticipate that global equities will soon encounter turbulence and fall sharply before correcting. You could sell all the shares in your portfolio in the belief that you’ll be able to buy them back at a much lower price. But that could prove costly in terms of transaction expenses and taxes, and it is risky: global equities might rise sharply and you might not then be able to buy back at a lower cost.

Alternatively, an investor fearing a market correction could take out a short position in oil CFDs. The price of oil tends to fall during periods of turbulence in financial markets, because such turbulence is often a precursor to global economic weakness and lower demand for oil. You could then buy the oil CFDs when you think they have fallen as low as they can go and before the financial-market turbulence ebbs and stock-market prices rise again.

Brent vs WTI crude oil

Two main prices are used in the oil market: Brent, which originates from oil fields in the North Sea between the Shetland Islands and Norway; and West Texas Intermediate (WTI), which is sourced from US oil fields. WTI tends to be the price used for all North American-produced crude, while Brent tends to be used for oil produced everywhere else in the world. Both Brent and WTI crude serve as pricing benchmarks for major portions of the global oil supply.

Brent and WTI crude have different properties, which result in a price differential called a “quality spread”. Traditionally, Brent was cheaper than WTI, but thanks to a surge in the supply of oil in the US (as a result of fracking), WTI has tended to be lower in price than Brent in recent years. However, both WTI and Brent prices are influenced by the same factors, so they tend to mirror each other’s behaviour.

The spread, or difference in price between the two, can widen at times. During the Arab Spring of 2011, which sparked fears of reduced Brent crude supply from the Middle East, the spot price of Brent surged to US$126.65 in April of that year, while WTI was priced at US$112.79.

Drivers of the oil price

Global supply and demand, and the economic cycle

A number of factors drive the price of oil, chief among them the balance between global supply and demand. The difference between the two tends to be very narrow, and anything that influences either supply or demand can have a dramatic impact on prices. Economic factors are a significant influence, for example. Higher economic growth drives demand for oil and hence its price, while a decline in economic output has the opposite effect. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021 clearly demonstrates this.

After lockdown measures were imposed at the beginning of 2020, global economic activity slumped dramatically, as did the price of crude oil. Similarly, as economies came out of lockdown in 2021 and economic activity picked up, the price of oil surged upwards. A similar trend can be seen after the global financial crisis of 2007–08, when the global economy entered a steep recession.

Crude Oil Price since 1980

Figure 1: Crude oil prices, 1980-2021 Source: Trading Economics

Geopolitics

Because oil is so vital to the global economy, it is often used as a political tool. This was most dramatically illustrated by the Arab oil embargo of 1973, when Arab members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) imposed an embargo against the United States in retaliation for the US decision to resupply the Israeli military and to gain leverage in the peace negotiations following the Arab–Israeli war of the same year. The price per barrel of oil quadrupled and this “oil price shock” is credited with causing the stagflation of the 1970s, when the advanced economies experienced high inflation and minimal growth.

The influence of OPEC has long since waned and fracking has caused a surge in US production, so geopolitics is less of an issue now than it has been for many years. However, if instability in the major oil-producing regions, such as the Middle East, threatens oil supplies, it can still cause the price to surge upwards.

Speculation and hedging

Traders are also a major influence on the price of oil. They bid on oil futures contracts in the commodities market based on their perceptions of future supply and demand. A futures contract is a legally binding agreement to buy or sell a standardised asset on a specific date or during a specific month. Futures contracts and oil derivatives, such as CFDs, are traded daily. This causes the price of oil to fluctuate, reflecting trader sentiment on a given day.

Futures and other derivatives are having an increasing impact on the price of crude oil. For example, airlines and oil producers use derivatives like futures and options to hedge against swings in the price of oil, while speculators drive prices upwards or downwards when there are waves of buying or selling amid incoming news. These traders closely watch data and reports on oil production, spare capacity, target pricing, and the state of the global economy before making their buying and selling decisions.

The weather

Seasonal demand can also play a role. For example, a very cold winter in the main centres of demand, such as the US and Europe, can drive up prices because it fuels demand for energy to heat homes and places of work. This can be clearly seen in Figure 2, which shows how US heating-oil and crude-oil prices tend to peak in January when winter is at its coldest.

U.S. average monthly heating oil and crude oil prices, 2000-2020

Figure 2: US heating-oil and crude-oil prices, 2000-2020 Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration

Trading versus investing in oil

Professional investors such as fund managers tend to shun oil as an investment because it does not provide any return. For example, while stocks can provide a regular income in the form of dividends and bonds in the form of coupons, oil generates no income.

You could invest in oil for the long term and purely for capital appreciation if you think the price is going to rise, but forecasting long-term price movements in commodities is notoriously difficult. There is also a danger that oil and oil stocks could fall out of favour, given the desire to move away from fossil fuels, which are blamed for climate change. Many fund managers are now refusing to invest in energy stocks in the same way that tobacco stocks were once shunned, while the drive to increase reliance on renewable energy and reduce dependence on fossil fuels shows no sign of abating.

However, oil makes much more sense as a trading instrument. As previously mentioned, the global oil market is vast and highly liquid, and prices fluctuate continually, providing opportunities for buying and selling the commodity.

Ways of trading oil

Traders can seek to exploit movements in the price of oil through a wide variety of instruments. We have already discussed CFDs, buying shares in oil producers, oil ETFs and futures.

Options

Options provide another means of trading oil. An option is an agreement between two parties to facilitate a potential transaction involving an asset at a preset price and date. However, while the buyer of an option has the right to purchase or sell a specific quantity of the underlying asset (oil in this case) at a predetermined price and time in the future, they are not obliged to do so. There are two types of option: “call” options (where the owner of the option has the right to buy the underlying asset) and “put” options (where the owner of the option has the right to sell the underlying asset).

For example, imagine you buy a call option on 1000 barrels of oil with a strike price of US$100 a barrel and an expiration date of 16 January. This option would give you the right to purchase 1000 barrels of oil at a price of US$100 per barrel by 16 January, and you would clearly only wish to exercise the option if oil is trading above US$100 a barrel at that time.

You pay a price (known as a premium) to buy an option, and this represents your total risk, because you cannot lose more than you pay for any put or call option.

Imagine that a trader pays a price of US$2 per contract for the right to buy 1000 barrels of oil at US$100 a barrel. The total cost of this option will be US$200 (100 x US$2 = US$200). Just before the option expires, oil is trading at US$105 a barrel, so the trader exercises their option, buying oil at US$100 a barrel and immediately selling it on the open market for US$105 a barrel. This option is therefore called “in the money”.

In this example, each contract will sell for US$5 on the expiration date, and because the option represents an interest in 1000 barrels, the total revenue or sale price is US$5000. The trader purchased the option for US$200, so their net profit will be US$4800.

Options allow traders to speculate on future price movements while limiting downside risks and opening up huge potential earnings. Imagine, in the above example, that the price of oil doubles to US$200 a barrel. The trader can only ever lose US$200, or the price of their option, but if oil doubled to US$200 per barrel, they would reap a profit of US$99,800.

Advantages of oil trading

Oil is one of the largest and most easily accessible markets in the world. The costs involved are relatively low compared with other markets, there are lots of brokers to choose from, and it is relatively easy to understand the ways in which you can trade the market. A vast amount of information is available to would-be traders, ranging from basic guides on how to get started, to videos and books outlining potentially profitable trading strategies.

You can trade from your living room using a fairly basic computer if you download the appropriate trading software, and it is relatively easy to set up an account with a broker. If you trade oil CFDs, you can also exploit the concept of leverage, where you make use of borrowed money to increase your potential profits – although you should be aware that leverage also dramatically increases your risk. There are methods you can use to contain risk, but that is a topic for another article.

The risks and disadvantages of oil trading

Commitment

Oil trading requires a considerable commitment. It takes time to learn how to trade profitably, and when you start to trade you may have to spend many hours per day on your computer screen following and researching what is happening in the market – and why – in preparation for your trading day. When that day is finished, you will need to analyse what happened and why your trading activities succeeded or failed, so that you can apply the lessons learnt to the next day’s trading. There could be days when you lose money and it is easy to become disheartened. There is certainly no guarantee of success. Oil trading can be risky. You may lose money or you may simply find that it is not something you like or have the temperament for. You have to be patient, for example, when waiting for opportunities to arise, and the market can experience bouts of extreme volatility that you may find highly stressful.

Leverage

Leverage is a double-edged sword. Suppose, using the earlier example, you agree to buy US$50,000 in an oil CFD contract, and the broker lets you put up just 5 per cent of the overall contract value, or US$2500. However, this time the price of oil falls by 10 per cent, so the overall value of the contract drops to US$45,000. Now you have turned your US$2500 outlay into a whopping US$5000 loss.

Moreover, if the capital in your account falls below a certain level, you may be subject to a “margin call”, where the broker asks you to put up additional funds to balance the account. If you fail to do so, the broker may close your positions, so crystallising your losses.

You can protect against potential losses to a certain degree. Brokers such as CMC Markets, for example, incorporate negative-balance protection into retail accounts, so your losses will be limited to the value of the funds in your account.

Constant monitoring

You need to be alert to changes in your position at all times. Market volatility and rapid changes in price – which could arise outside normal business hours if you are trading international markets – can cause the balance of your account to change quickly. If you do not have sufficient funds in your account to cover these situations, your positions will be automatically closed.

Market volatility and gapping

Financial markets can be very volatile and the prices of financial instruments can rise or fall precipitately at times, jumping to a much lower or higher price rather than moving gradually. This is called gapping and it can have a significant impact on traders.

For example, traders may use stop-loss orders to limit losses. This involves specifying a price at which your position closes out if an instrument’s price goes against you. When gapping occurs, however, those stop-loss orders may be executed at unfavourable prices – either higher or lower than you may have anticipated, depending on the direction of your trade.

It is easy to take on too much risk

Because the cost of trading oil CFDs is low, due to leverage, it is easy for investors to be lulled into a false sense of security and take on more trades than is prudent. This can leave them overexposed to the markets at any given time, such that their remaining capital would be insufficient to cover losses across the portfolio. If multiple positions go wrong, it can spell financial ruin for those who adopt a less than cautious approach to CFD trading.

Oil trading fees

There are a number of fees and costs associated with trading oil CFDs. As explained earlier, when you open a CFD trade you must pay a portion of its full value up front. This deposit is called the margin, and the percentage you have to pay on the overall value of the trade will affect the affordability of your trading.

Commission and spread

The costs of CFD trading include the commission charged by the broker and the spread, i.e. the difference between the bid and offer prices at the time you trade.

Commission (normally around 0.10 per cent) is charged when you buy or sell a CFD on shares. The commission charge varies depending on the country where the share product originates. However, no commission is charged on other products, such as foreign currency, indices, cryptocurrencies, commodities (including oil), and treasury instruments.

The spread is the way the broker earns money when dealing in non-share CFDs. It is simply the difference between the price at which you can buy a CFD and the price at which you can sell that same CFD at the same moment. The price at which you buy (bid price) is always higher than the price at which you sell (ask price), and the underlying market price will generally be in the middle of these two prices. Trading spreads add costs to a trade and will fluctuate along with an asset’s price and trading volume.

Financing charge

If you hold a long position, you will also be charged interest to hold that position overnight. This is referred to as a financing charge and is calculated as the current overnight interest rate charged by the major banks plus 2 to 3 per cent. If you hold a short position overnight, you will receive a payment of the current overnight interest rate minus 2 to 3 per cent.

For example, the broker IG says that for long positions it charges 2.5 per cent above the relevant interbank rate, so if the relevant interbank 1-month rate is 0.5 per cent, you would be charged 3.0 per cent. For short positions, traders receive the relevant interbank rate minus 2.5 per cent. So, if the interbank rate is greater than 2.5 per cent, IG will credit your account. But if the interbank rate is less than 2.5 per cent, your account will be debited. As an example, if the relevant interbank 1-month rate was 0.5 per cent, you would be charged 2.0 per cent (annualised).

Weekend fees

You will be charged extra if you keep a position open over the weekend, as opposed to overnight.

Withdrawal fee

Some brokers may charge a fee to withdraw money. eToro, for example, says that it charges US$5 for withdrawals “to cover some of the expenses involved in international money transfers”. The fee may vary depending on the currency involved. Some brokers may offer a set number of free withdrawals per month.

Conversion fees

Some brokers will charge a fee to convert one currency into another. eToro gives an example of around a US$10 cost to convert a deposit of £2000 into US dollars.

Inactivity fee

A fee may be charged if an account goes unused for a set period. One broker, for example, charges a US$10 monthly inactivity fee on any remaining available balance if there has been no login activity for more than 12 months.

Oil trading strategies

There are a large number of oil-trading strategies but the main ones include the following.

Buy and hold

“Buy and hold” is probably the best and most widely used trading strategy. It is based on analysing demand and supply factors, deciding how those will influence prices, and using futures contracts to implement your views.

Technical analysis

Crude-oil traders base their investment decisions on technical indicators such as candlesticks, bar charts and the volume of trading. They usually base their analysis on a combination of short- and long-term charts. There are a wide variety of technical indicators and price patterns a trader can use to look for signals to enter the market, but you can just use one that you understand and that has proved effective. A common yet very effective way to begin analysing any chart is simply to identify the overall trend in the market and then look for repeating patterns.

Swing trading

Swing trading involves buying and holding a commodity for a short period of time – from a few minutes to three or four days. Crude-oil swing traders rely on short-term changes in supply and demand, technical analysis and candlestick charts to determine the market’s trend. For example, swing traders will buy a futures contract if the market is trending up and sell if the market trends down. They aim to earn profits from small movements caused by volatility. However, swing trading is risky, and you can lose a lot of money quickly if the market moves against you.

Spread trading

Spread trading involves buying a crude-oil futures contract in one month and selling another crude-oil futures contract in a further month. The purpose is to profit from the expected change between the buying and selling price of both contracts.

Oil trading tips

Traders can make consistent profits from trading oil, but preparation is key. Follow these tips and you will maximise your chances of trading oil successfully.

Use a demo account

All good brokers offer demo accounts where you can practise trading using virtual money. You can learn how the market works, how to place buy and sell orders, and how to deploy strategies, etc. at no risk to yourself. Do this for as long as you can. If you are consistently making a profit, it might be time to sign up for a real account.

Educate yourself

Good brokers offer lots of educational material on their platforms. There is also much material on the internet – including videos and examples of trades – that can help you learn all you need to know to trade successfully.

Don’t get emotional

Trading can be very stressful. Using a demo account can help you to decide whether the stress of losing money is for you or not. It is important to keep your cool when the market turns against you and know when to exit a position and accept your losses.

How to begin oil trading

All you need to do to start trading oil is to find a forex broker that you like and open an account. This is simple and can be done online. You will be asked to provide proof of identity and a deposit.

You can use either an onshore broker regulated in South Africa or an offshore broker. You are likely to be better protected if you use a South African broker since they will be regulated by the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA). If things go wrong and your broker is registered in a country thousands of miles away, it might be difficult to gain legal redress.

However, there are advantages to using an offshore broker. The main advantage is that you won’t be subject to the same restrictions as when using a South Africa-based broker regulated by the FSCA.

There are things you should consider whether you use an FSCA-registered broker or one based offshore. These include:

  • The trading experience – is the trading platform easy to use, what kind of support do they offer, and are there tools that can help with research, etc?
  • Trading costs and transparency – these can vary widely from broker to broker. Some charge a fixed commission regardless of how much you trade, while others charge a fee based on trading volume (the higher the volume, the greater the commission). Other brokers don’t charge a commission but instead charge a spread fee. The spread is the difference between the price the broker quotes you for buying a currency and the price it quotes for selling it. This is effectively the fee your broker charges you to trade. It is also important to be aware of the hidden fees some brokers charge, such as inactivity fees, monthly or quarterly minimums, and fees associated with calling a broker on the phone.
  • Customer service – you can trade 24 hours a day, five days a week, but does the broker offer 24-hour support? Is help available instantaneously online or via the phone, or do you have to wait for a response? You can check by calling the broker at different times of the day before signing up.
  • Minimum deposit – this can vary from just US$1 to US$300, but most brokers let you open an account with around US$100.
  • Maximum leverage – there is no standard on leverage limits for forex brokers regulated by the FSCA. Both the FSCA and offshore brokers can offer higher levels of leverage. Some provide a 500:1 ratio, and it can be as high as 3000:1 which would be irresponsible for any trader to consider using.

FAQs

How do you trade oil online?

Trading oil online is easy. You simply open an account with an online broker, deposit some money and start trading. In reality, however, you may need to practise trading for many weeks using a demo account and virtual money. There is a huge amount to learn in terms of market drivers, how to place trades, what strategies to use, how to deploy these strategies, etc.

What moves oil markets?

Many factors. Oil has been described as the lifeblood of the global economy and demand is correlated with the strength of the global economy, rising when it is expanding and falling when the global economy shrinks. Geopolitical factors affecting supply also play an important role. Anything that threatens the supply of oil onto global markets causes the price to shoot upwards, given that global supply and demand are closely balanced.

When can you trade oil?

You can trade oil five days a week, 24 hours a day, when the main global markets are open.

How do you trade or invest in oil?

There is a wide range of instruments for investing and trading in oil. Investors tend to choose ETFs and funds specialising in oil or individual oil producers. Traders tend to use instruments such as Contracts for Difference (CFDs), futures and options.

Can you short oil?

Yes, you can short oil using CFDs.

How much leverage can you apply to oil trades?

Usually, the maximum ratio is 30:1, but some offshore brokers may offer higher rates of leverage.

What’s the minimum amount of money needed to trade oil

You can open an account for as little as US$100 and start trading oil.

Which are the best oil ETFs?

The best-performing oil ETFs over the three months to the beginning of December 2021 were as follows:

  1. iShares STOXX Europe Oil & Gas UCITS ETF
  2. Lyxor STOXX Europe Oil & Gas UCITS ETF
  3. Lyxor STOXX Europe 600 Oil & Gas UCITS ETF
  4. Invesco STOXX Europe 600 Optimised Oil & Gas UCITS ETF
  5. Wisdom Tree Brent Crude oil Pre-roll

Forex Risk Disclaimer

Trading Forex and CFDs is not suitable for all investors as it carries a high degree of risk to your capital: 75-90% of retail investors lose money trading these products. 

Forex and CFD transactions involve high risk due to the following factors: Over-leveraging, unpredictable market volatility, slippage arising from a lack of liquidity, inadequate trading knowledge or experience, and a lack of regulatory protection for clients.

Traders should not deposit any money that is not disposable. Regardless of how much research you have done, or how confident you are in your trade, there is always a substantial risk of loss. (Learn more from the FCA or from ASIC)

Our Methodology

Our State of the Market Report and Broker Directory are the results of extensive research on over 100 Forex brokers. The explicit goal of these resources is to help traders find the best Forex brokers – and steer them away from the worst ones – with the benefit of accurate and up-to-date information.

With over 150 data points on each broker and over 3000 hours of research and review writing, we believe we have succeeded in our goal. 

In a world where trading conditions and customer support can vary based on where you live, our broker reviews focus on the local trader and give you information about these brokers from your perspective.

All research has been conducted by our in-house team of researchers and writers, gathering information from various company representatives, websites and sifting through the fine print. Learn more about how we rank brokers

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Featured Brokers

Trading Forex and CFDs is not suitable for all investors and comes with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 75-90% of retail investors lose money trading these products. You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.

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