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The relationship between crude oil spot and futures prices: Cointegration, linear and nonlinear causality

by Stelios D. Bekiros, C. G H Diks
Energy Economics ()

Abstract

The present study investigates the linear and nonlinear causal linkages between daily spot and futures prices for maturities of one, two, three and four months of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil. The data cover two periods October 1991-October 1999 and November 1999-October 2007, with the latter being significantly more turbulent. Apart from the conventional linear Granger test we apply a new nonparametric test for nonlinear causality by Diks and Panchenko after controlling for cointegration. In addition to the traditional pairwise analysis, we test for causality while correcting for the effects of the other variables. To check if any of the observed causality is strictly nonlinear in nature, we also examine the nonlinear causal relationships of VECM filtered residuals. Finally, we investigate the hypothesis of nonlinear non-causality after controlling for conditional heteroskedasticity in the data using a GARCH-BEKK model. Whilst the linear causal relationships disappear after VECM cointegration filtering, nonlinear causal linkages in some cases persist even after GARCH filtering in both periods. This indicates that spot and futures returns may exhibit asymmetric GARCH effects and/or statistically significant higher order conditional moments. Moreover, the results imply that if nonlinear effects are accounted for, neither market leads or lags the other consistently, videlicet the pattern of leads and lags changes over time. © 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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