Markets Spike Following Reports of 90% Effective COVID Vaccine

Market TalkMonday, Nov 9 2020
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Reports of a “90% effective” COVID vaccine have equity and energy markets spiking this morning, with the DJIA and S&P500 both poised to break all-time highs following the news.  Energy futures were already moving 2-3 cents higher overnight as the market was considering the impacts a new U.S. president will have on prices, and then surged another 5-6 cents around 6 a.m. when the vaccine news broke.

The spike is breaking the downward sloping trend-lines on the weekly charts for WTI, ULSD and RBOB, with product prices now 22 cents higher than they were during the overnight selloff November 1. The dramatic reversal sets up a test of the top-end of the summer trading range, which looks like it will be a major technical pivot point to determine if prices continue their sideways action or if we see another 20-30% rally in the coming months.

At some point, it seems we’ll probably get a pullback once it sinks in that there is still a long hard winter ahead of us with COVID case counts soaring around the country and around the world, while this vaccine will still need months to develop and then even more time to produce and distribute. 

The companies that have been putting oil rigs back to work over the past several weeks must be feeling better about their decision this morning as WTI has added more than 10% to its value so far today.  Baker Hughes reported five more rigs were added last week, the seventh consecutive increase, with the Permian basin accounting for the entire move this week.

Money managers on the other hand are probably wishing they had a do-over as they slashed bets on higher prices across the board last week, just in time to miss out on the best rally in the past five months. Earlier this year, Saudi Arabia’s energy minister threatened oil price speculators, and already seems to be holding to that promise, suggesting tweaks to its output cut plans after the widespread selling by large speculative traders last week.

A few interesting reads on how the new President may impact energy markets:

Law360: Biden’s win puts clean energy center stage.

Bloomberg: How Biden’s win affects commodities hit by trade wars.

Reuters: Unresolved Biofuel Policy facing the next president.

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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.

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Pivotal Week For Price Action
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Week 28 - US DOE Inventory Recap