Combination Of Bullish Technical And Fundamental Factors To Push Oil And Diesel Prices To 7 Year Highs

Market TalkTuesday, Jan 18 2022
Pivotal Week For Price Action

The rally continues in energy markets as a combination of bullish technical and fundamental factors combine to push oil and diesel prices to 7 year highs. For ULSD, this would mark a record setting 12th straight trading session with gains, but since yesterday’s holiday means there was no settlement published, it will only count as 11.

“There’s no such thing as a triple top.” In October 2018 Brent crude reached a high of $86.74 before falling to $50 in December. In October of 2021 Brent topped out at $86.70 before dropping to $65 in December, and yesterday Brent topped out at $86.71. The old, and often disputed, trading adage proved true overnight, with Brent rallying north of $88, which now opens the door for another move higher, with a rally to $100 looking certainly possible. ULSD is looking similarly bullish on the charts, with a push towards $2.80 and even $3 looking more likely now that prices have enthusiastically followed through on their breach of technical resistance.

It’s not just the charts that look supportive of a sudden spike either, the escalation of tensions in Ukraine seem to be contributing to some panic buying as the risk of Russia using oil and gas exports as a weapon seems to be growing. In addition to the large amounts of natural gas which can indirectly push up oil and product prices when replacement options are needed, Russia exports roughly 2 million barrels/day of oil to other parts of Europe, that will no doubt be threatened if the conflict continues to escalate. 

Cause or Effect? The combination of bullish factors has drawn large amounts of fund money back into the energy arena in recent weeks, which can create a snowball effect as bandwagon jumping begets more buying. So what might stop the rally? Short term there are plenty of overbought signals on the charts, so trading algorithms might start selling heavily at any sign of a pullback. Longer term, the stock market may be foreshadowing the end of the bull run as it continues to pull back under the weight of higher interest rates, and in some cases, higher fuel prices.  Unfortunately, that sets up a scenario where a supply-fear price spike may lead to a longer term demand collapse and we end up seeing lower fuel prices because the economy starts to shrink.

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Market Talk Update 01.18.2022

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Market TalkFriday, Jun 2 2023

Energy Prices Up Over 2% Across The Board This Morning

Refined product futures traded in an 8-10 cent range yesterday with prompt heating oil settling up ~6 cents and RBOB ending up about flat. Oil prices clawed back some of the losses taken in the first two full trading days of the week, putting the price per barrel for US crude back over the $70 mark. Prices are up just over 2% across the board this morning, signifying confidence after the Senate passed the bipartisan debt ceiling bill last night.

The EIA reported crude oil inventories up 4.5 million barrels last week, aided by above-average imports, weakened demand, and a sizeable increase to their adjustment factor. The Strategic Petroleum Reserve continues to release weekly through June and the 355 million barrels remaining in the SPR is now at a low not seen since September 1983. Exports increased again on the week and continue to run well above last year’s record-setting levels through the front half of the year. Refinery runs and utilization rates have increased to their highest points this year, both sitting just above year-ago rates.

Diesel stocks continue to hover around the low end of the 5-year range set in 2022, reporting a build of about half of what yesterday’s API data showed. Most PADDs saw modest increases last week but all are sitting far below average levels. Distillate imports show 3 weeks of growth trending along the seasonal average line, while 3.7 million barrels leaving the US last week made it the largest increase in exports for the year. Gasoline inventories reported a small decline on the week, also being affected by the largest jump in exports this year, leaving it under the 5-year range for the 11th consecutive week. Demand for both products dwindled last week; however, gas is still comfortably above average despite the drop.

The sentiment surrounding OPEC+’s upcoming meeting is they’re not likely to extend oil supply cuts, despite prices falling early in the week. OPEC+ is responsible for a significant portion of global crude oil production and its policy decisions can have a major impact on prices. Some members of OPEC+ have voluntarily cut production since April due to a waning economic outlook, but the group is not expected to take further action next week.

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

Pivotal Week For Price Action
Market TalkThursday, Jun 1 2023

Prices Are Mixed This Morning As The Potential Halt In U.S. Interest Rate Hikes

Bearish headlines pushed refined products and crude futures down again yesterday. Prompt RBOB closed the month at $2.5599 and HO at $2.2596 with WTI dropping another $1.37 to $68.09 and Brent losing 88 cents. Prices are mixed this morning as the potential halt in U.S. interest rate hikes and the House passing of the US debt ceiling bill balanced the impact of rising inventories and mixed demand signals from China.

The American Petroleum Institute reported crude builds of 5.2 million barrels countering expectations of a draw. Likewise, refined product inventories missed expectations and were also reported to be up last week with gasoline adding 1.891 million barrels and diesel stocks rising 1.849 million barrels. The market briefly attempted a push higher but ultimately settled with losses following the reported supply increases implying weaker than anticipated demand. The EIA will publish its report at 10am this morning.

LyondellBasell announced plans yesterday to delay closing of their Houston refinery, originally scheduled to shut operations by the end of this year, through Q1 2025. The company “remains committed to ceasing operation of its oil refining business” but the 289,000 b/d facility remaining online longer than expected will likely have market watchers adjusting this capacity back into their balance estimates.

Side note: there is still an ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine. Two oil refineries located east of Russia's major oil export terminals were targeted by drone attacks. The Afipsky refinery’s 37,000 b/d crude distillation unit was struck yesterday, igniting a massive fire that was later extinguished while the other facility avoided any damage. The attacks are part of a series of intensified drone strikes on Russian oil pipelines. Refineries in Russia have been frequently targeted by drones since the start of the military operation in Ukraine in February 2022.

Pivotal Week For Price Action
Market TalkThursday, Jun 1 2023

Week 22 - US DOE Inventory Recap