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Gasoline Prices Are Leading The Modest Move Lower This Morning

Wednesday, Dec 22 2021
Market Talk

After a strong Tuesday rally, energy and equity markets are slipping back into the red in the early going Wednesday as traders begin to wind down their activity ahead of the Christmas break.

RBOB and ULSD futures are hovering right around the weekly trend lines that have been in place since they peaked out in October some 40 cents above current values. If they can break through that resistance, there’s clear sailing on the charts for at least another 10 cent rally, and a decent chance we could see 20 cents added in the next few weeks, even as seasonal factors would tend to lean the other direction. If those trend lines continue to act as repellant to these rally attempts however, it seems inevitable that we’ll see prices make another run at the November lows.

Gasoline prices are leading the modest move lower this morning, with another large inventory build seeming to weigh on RBOB futures. The API reported that gasoline stocks grew by 3.7 million barrels last week, while crude and diesel inventories saw declines. Large builds are what we expect to see in gasoline this time of year, and we typically continue to see them until winter inventories peak some time in February ahead of the spring drawdown. Last weeks’ DOE report broke the mold and showed a large decline in gasoline stocks amidst a record surge in demand that seemed a little too good to be true, which could mean today’s report has a large correction and puts more downward pressure on prices.

Speaking of downward pressure: Ethanol prices along the East Coast have finally started to pull back from the $4 level, dropping 65 cents in the past week, and closing the gap with prices in other parts of the country that started their return to reality about a month ago. It’s not a shortage of ethanol that’s causing the price spikes, but a shortage of transportation to get the ethanol from the middle of the country where it’s made, to the coasts where it’s consumed, and as gasoline demand has started the annual winter decline, those bottlenecks appear to be easing, and the forward curve chart suggests there’s another dollar/gallon left to come out of these prices before the correction is done.    

The next front in the cold war?  While Russia continues its sabre rattling campaign over the Ukraine, the soviets are also seeing recognition of their new carbon program by the EU. No word yet if the EU refuses whether or not the Russians will simply invade the EU’s carbon scheme.

A Dallas FED report Tuesday highlighted the big strides in battery technology over the past 30 years, while noting the improvements still needed if EVs are going to move from 2% of US vehicle sales to anything resembling the 17% target the EPA just set for 2026

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