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Anytime you trade stocks with a firm or reach an agreement with an investment company there are binding agreements that you should fully understand. Your part of the deal will likely involve investing money while the possible returns will be the only part of the agreement that isn’t guaranteed.

Of course, the very nature of investing is volatile so you need to know when it’s a good time to invest your money and when to walk away from a deal.

You can have a legal professional explain what you are agreeing to when you sign an investment agreement and show you what legal issues you may be exposing yourself to. Completing an online paralegal program can also help you read investment contracts on the same level as a legal professional.

Learn Legal Terms

Even if you just want to sign up for an online investment account where you are able to deposit cash from your bank and control your investments, there’s a legal contract that you have to sign first. Trades might come with fees that you need to agree to. Your investment contract will also explain when you can make withdrawals, how you will be compensated, and when you can sell stocks.

Never skim over any type of investment contract you are required to sign before agreeing to invest money. It may take you over an hour to read the fine print, but at least you will know what can happen while investing.

Locate All Loopholes

If there is the possibility that you will be signing a non-standard investment contract, you should have your attorney give you personalized advice. If possible, have a professional with an online master in paralegal studies help to prepare a secondary contract that closes potential loopholes.

Signing an investment contract that only requires you to invest and offers you no recourse is quite dangerous. Even if an investment isn’t guaranteed to be profitable, any investment agreement you make should allow you to get some of your initial investment back.

Should You Make the Deal?

After reading an investment contract, you won’t need to mill over your options. Either the contract makes it easy for you to figure out if going forward is smart, or you need to immediately decline. If you understand legal terms and contract law, you can ask the investment firm you want to work with to make some changes to the contract.

You can arrange a meeting between your attorneys so that everyone has a high level of protection. If the contract is presented as a ‘take it or leave it’ deal, you’ll know that declining participation is smarter than going into an arrangement that makes you financially vulnerable.

When you know how to read an investment contract on a professional level, you will be able to go to the sections that explain the most crucial parts of the deal. In under a minute, you’ll be able to see if everything looks good or if a new contract should be created.

Remember that all contracts are binding, so don’t go into investing without taking legal advice.

Being an energy investor and playing the markets has been a real rollercoaster ride in recent times with a rise and fall in oil prices to keep you on your toes and offering plenty of opportunities to profit if you got your timing right.

The question for investors right now is where is the oil industry heading in the future and how can you profit from the rebound that is expected to come?

Here is a look at how to interpret the market data and understand underlying factors contributing to the volatility, why OPEC’s actions matter, plus an insight into why pessimism seems the order of the day for oil prices in the near future.

Making sense of it all

There are downturns in certain industries and there is the sort of deep downturn that the oil industry has had to endure over the last couple of years.

On reflection, you might not think that this period would have been a good time to invest in oil wells or chase oil prices higher, but things can often change in a heartbeat and if history is going to repeat itself yet again in this industry, a recovery is around the corner, if not a boom.

What OPEC decide to do to protect its member’s interests and stimulate growth as well as protecting market share, is always an important consideration, as their policies and pricing decisions can often set the tone.

OPEC did agree to cut oil production back in 2016, and despite some dissenting voices, no one has broken rank and the agreement seems to be holding. The merits of this policy appeared to be bearing fruit as prices managed to strengthen after that decision was implemented but as U.S inventories have been building steadily thanks to the shale boom, the prospect of stronger oil prices has faded lately.

Don’t hold your breath

Any investor or oil company executive for that matter, who is waiting for a return to the halcyon days of $100 per barrel, might be in for a very long wait, and some analysts even speculate whether they will actually return to the sort of levels seen prior to the collapse towards the end of 2014.

Oil prices were on the floor at one point and the price per barrel dipped to below $30 before picking up the pace and managing to climb all the way up to $50 by the end of 2016. Not exactly the heady heights of yesteryear for sure, but it did provide a hint of promise that prices would continue to climb from that point.

Predictions of $60 per barrel have started to look wildly optimistic in light of further recent price dips, so where is it heading next?

Rollercoaster ride continues

You can find a diverse range of oil market analysts who are predicting that oil prices could hit $70 by the end of 2017 and others who are far more pessimistic and think that $40 per barrel is nearer the number we could be looking at.

That is a wild swing between the two positions and both views can’t be right, so you will have to try and decipher and interpret market conditions in order to see which opinion you agree with.

The truth is probably somewhere in the middle of the two estimates, but one thing is for sure, the roller coaster ride is likely to continue and there are going to be some wild swings in prices to negotiate or profit from if you get your timing right.

For example, some investors are watching events in Venezuela with interest, as political and economic turmoil will have an impact on markets as it is a major oil producing country.

You also have to consider the impact of oversupply as a result of the U.S shale boom, and once again, what action OPEC takes will make a difference. Its members are responsible for about 40% of global oil supplies so this is a group whose force can be felt when they want it to be.

Finding the price floor

If you are riding the waves of the oil price, a key piece of data you need to know is where the price floor is likely to be. If OPEC fails to extend their existing output cuts that could turn out to be below $40 per barrel.

OPEC announced six months of production cuts that took effect from January 2017 and that initially managed to set a floor for prices. However, the combination of increasing shale oil production and record-setting inventory levels are putting downward pressure on prices.

If OPEC doesn’t extend the current production cut deal there would appear to be every chance that markets would interpret that end to cuts as a negative factor and we could find a new lower level for prices that is below $40 per barrel.

Thomas Kent, a long-time finance and investing enthusiast, likes to help others by writing about his know-how and experiences. You can find many of his articles on personal finance and stock market websites.


investorHaving a new baby can get you to rethink your priorities. Putting your child's needs first can include investing and can help you as much as your child to become a smart investor.

Getting your baby started as an investor can set them up for a lifetime of financial success.

Here are four ways to help your baby grow up to be a smart and wealthy investor:

Start a college savings fund

College can be an investment in a child’s future. Starting to save for child as soon as a child is born can be one of the best investments a parent will make to help their child.

Don’t wait a month or so after your child is born. Because if you delay it now, you know what will happen next — you’ll continue finding excuses not to do it and eventually your kid will be asking you how they’ll afford to go to college and you won’t have an answer.

A 529 plan is one way to save for college. Legally known as “qualified tuition plans,” they’re available in all 50 states as a pre-tax way to invest money. The other type of 529 plan allows tuition to be paid ahead of time at some colleges. ...continue reading