Oil Price Volatility and Stock Returns: Evidence from Three Oil-price Wars

JEL Classification : C32, G12, Q40, Q43
Publication Year : 2020

This study examines how crude oil price volatility affected the stock returns of major global oil and gas corporations during three major oil-price wars that took place between October 1991 and June 2020. Episodes considered include the 1998 Saudi Arabia—Venezuela war, the 2014-16 conflict and the 2020 Saudi Arabia—Russia war in a time of unprecedented crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Our findings reveal a significant evidence for volatility persistence and leverage effects in oil price during the three oil-price wars. These findings are consistent for WTI as well as Brent crude oil specifications. Though the persistence of volatility is similar to that of the previous two oilprice wars, the 2020 Saudi Arabia—Russia oil-price war has higher volatility spikes than the previous two wars. Besides, oil price shocks have a significant and positive effect on the returns of oil and gas companies. These findings provide information on how volatility in global oil prices is also sensitive to irregular events such as price wars between oil producers. This information can be important for economic agents contemplating shorter hedges by managing risks during times of high volatility.