Another Wave Of Selling Is Kicking Off Christmas-Week Trading

Market TalkMonday, Dec 20 2021
Pivotal Week For Price Action

Another wave of selling is kicking off Christmas-week trading as more bad news on the Omicron spread continues to dominate the headlines, and central banks have made it clear that the printing presses will not be available this time around.  

Bond markets are also flashing warning signals as the US Treasury yield curve has shrunk to its lowest level in a year, which is seen as an indicator of an increased risk of recession in the months ahead. The good news is that the treasury yield curve is not yet close to inverting, as it did prior to each of the last recessions in the US.

After technical resistance held up and broke the recovery rally in energy prices last week, the charts are pointing lower with a retest of $2.00 looking likely for refined products. Already this morning RBOB futures dipped to $2.02 during the worst of the overnight selling, and even though ULSD futures are trading around $2.15 at the moment, a test of their November low just about the $2 mark looks like a decent bet in the weeks to come.

Money managers looked like they’re having a hard time deciding what to do with energy contracts last week with WTI and ULSD seeing large reductions in net length, while RBOB, Brent and Gasoil contracts all saw increases. One unusual note from this week’s commitment of traders report: the Producer/Merchant trade category saw its net length reach a 5 year high last week, compared to a more typical short position as producers tend to sell forward to hedge their output.  It’s hard to say what might be driving this length, especially since a lot of producer hedging filters through the Swap Dealer category, but the result seems clear that oil producers are either comfortable moving forward without locking in the prices on forward output, or their lack of capital is preventing them from doing so, making pullbacks like this potentially more damaging.

Baker Hughes reported another net increase of 4 oil rigs working last week, the 6th week out of 7 to have increases. The chart below shows that although the rig count has built steadily over the past year, the rate of increase is noticeably lower than the recoveries in 2011 and 2016, which appears to be a factor of both supply & labor challenges, and the aforementioned restrictions in capital. 

Electric Vehicles are once again taking center stage of the political theatre in Washington, as a provision to add an additional $4500 tax credit for union-made EVs may have been the straw that broke the build back better bill’s back.

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Maket Talk Update 12.20.21

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Market TalkFriday, Jul 19 2024

Summertime-Friday-Apathy Trade Influencing Energy Markets

Energy markets are treading water to start the day as the Summertime-Friday-Apathy trade seems to be influencing markets around the world in the early going. RBOB futures are trying for a 3rd straight day of gains to wipe out the losses we saw to start the week, while ULSD futures continue to look like the weak link, trading lower for a 2nd day and down nearly 3 cents for the week.

Bad to worse: Exxon’s Joliet refinery remains offline with reports that repairs may take through the end of the month. On top of that long delay in restoring power to the facility, ENT reported this morning that the facility has leaked hydrogen fluoride acid gas, which is a dangerous and controversial chemical used in alkylation units. Chicago basis values continue to rally because of the extended downtime, with RBOB differentials approaching a 50-cent premium to futures, which sets wholesale prices just below the $3 mark, while ULSD has gone from the weakest in the country a month ago to the strongest today. In a sign of how soft the diesel market is over most of the US, however, the premium commanded in a distressed market is still only 2 cents above prompt futures.

The 135mb Calcasieu Refinery near Lake Charles LA has been taken offline this morning after a nearby power substation went out, and early reports suggest repairs will take about a week. There is no word yet if that power substation issue has any impacts on the nearby Citgo Lake Charles or P66 Westlake refineries.

Two tanker ships collided and caught fire off the coast of Singapore this morning. One ship was a VLCC which is the largest tanker in the world capable of carrying around 2 million barrels. The other was a smaller ship carrying “only” 300,000 barrels (roughly 12 million gallons) of naphtha. The area is known for vessels in the “dark fleet” swapping products offshore to avoid sanctions, so a collision isn’t too surprising as the vessels regularly come alongside one another, and this shouldn’t disrupt other ships from transiting the area.

That’s (not) a surprise: European auditors have determined the bloc’s green hydrogen goals are unattainable despite billions of dollars of investment, and are based on “political will” rather than analysis. Also (not) surprising, the ambitious plans to build a “next-gen” hydrogen-powered refinery near Tulsa have been delayed.

Click here to download a PDF of Today's TACenergy Market Talk.

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Market TalkThursday, Jul 18 2024

Refined Products Stanch Bleeding Despite Inventory Builds And Demand Slump

Refined products are trading slightly lower to start Thursday after they stopped the bleeding in Wednesday’s session, bouncing more than 2 cents on the day for both RBOB and ULSD, despite healthy inventory builds reported by the DOE along with a large slump in gasoline demand.

Refinery runs are still above average across the board but were pulled in PADD 3 due to the short-term impacts of Beryl. The Gulf Coast region is still outpacing the previous two years and sitting at the top end of its 5-year range as refiners in the region play an interesting game of chicken with margins, betting that someone else’s facility will end up being forced to cut rates before theirs.

Speaking of which, Exxon Joliet was reportedly still offline for a 3rd straight day following weekend thunderstorms that disrupted power to the area. Chicago RBOB basis jumped by another dime during Wednesday’s session as a result of that downtime. Still, that move is fairly pedestrian (so far) in comparison to some of the wild swings we’ve come to expect from the Windy City. IIR via Reuters reports that the facility will be offline for a week.

LA CARBOB differentials are moving in the opposite direction meanwhile as some unlucky seller(s) appear to be stuck long and wrong as gasoline stocks in PADD 5 reach their highest level since February, and held above the 5-year seasonal range for a 4th consecutive week. The 30-cent discount to August RBOB marks the biggest discount to futures since 2022.

The EIA Wednesday also highlighted its forecast for rapid growth in “Other” biofuels production like SAF and Renewable Naptha and Propane, as those producers capable of making SAF instead of RD can add an additional $.75/gallon of federal credits when the Clean Fuels Producer’s Credit takes hold next year. The agency doesn’t break out the products between the various “Other” renewable fuels, but the total projected output of 50 mb/day would amount to roughly 2% of total Jet Fuel production if it was all turned to SAF, which of course it won’t as the other products come along for the ride similar to traditional refining processes.

Click here to download a PDF of today's TACenergy Market Talk

Pivotal Week For Price Action
Market TalkWednesday, Jul 17 2024

Week 28 - US DOE Inventory Recap