Futures prices determine physical oil prices

Not the other way around. All commodities traded on the futures market are priced this way. So, yes, speculators can influence prices. But they can’t control them. Besides, speculators don’t move en masse. Some are short, hoping prices will fall, while others are betting on a rise.

If supply is falling while demand is rising, then such a stressed system probably is more able to be somewhat gamed. But supply and demand are the real deciding factors.

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