Sustainability (Mar 2019)

Heterogeneous Causal Relationships between Spot and Futures Oil Prices: Evidence from Quantile Causality Analysis

  • Xianfang Su,
  • Huiming Zhu,
  • Xinxia Yang

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 11, no. 5
p. 1359


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The causal relationships between spot and futures crude oil prices have attracted the attention of many researchers in the past several decades. Most of the studies, however, do not distinguish among the various oil market situations in analyses of linear and nonlinear causalities. In light of the fact that a booming or depressing oil market produces heterogeneous investment behaviors, this study applied a quantile causality framework to capture different causalities across various quantile levels and found that the causal relationships between crude oil spot and futures prices significantly derive from tail quantile intervals and appear as heterogeneous effects. Before the Iraq War, crude oil spot and futures prices were mutually Granger-caused at lower quantile levels, and only futures prices led spot prices at upper quantile levels. Since the war, a clear bidirectional causality has existed at the upper quantile levels, but only in lower quantile levels have futures prices led spot prices. These results provide useful information to investors using crude spot or futures prices to hedge or manage downside or upside risks in their portfolios.