Stairs Up, Elevator Down For Energy And Equity Markets

Market TalkMonday, Dec 21 2020
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It’s a case of stairs up, elevator down for energy and equity markets as a broad selloff overnight wiped out all of last week’s gains in just a few hours. It appears there’s a bit of “buy the rumor, sell the news” in today’s big drop as the long-awaited congressional stimulus package was finally passed over the weekend, but it came with strings attached – most notably some restrictions on the FED’s emergency lending capabilities

The U.S. Dollar has had a strong rally as it appears the money printing press will now have to get more approval before cranking up going forward, which matters more to Wall Street bankers than the $600 checks being sent to lower-income earners elsewhere. The bright side of this phenomenon is it brings back one of our favorite news characters, the “Head-in-hands trader” who tends to make an appearance any time we get a big sell-off.

In addition, there’s a new strain of COVID reported in England, that has much of Europe and Canada restricting travel to and from the UK as a result. Fears that the new strain could offset progress made with the vaccines seems to be spooking markets, but some reports suggest that the vaccines are still likely to be effective against the new strain.

Given the huge run-up in process we’ve seen since Nov. 1, we could easily see another 10-15 cents of downside for refined products in a normal correction of that rally unless buyers are able to get prices back above the upward sloping trend lines soon. That said, we saw similar rounds of steady buying capped off by a large sell-off in June, August and September, and each time the market recovered the losses within a week or two. 

Money managers continued to add net-length across the petroleum contracts last week, enjoying the seventh straight week of gains. Their reaction to this selloff, the largest in nearly 2 months, may make a big difference in whether or not this ends up being just a correction, or the end of the line for the rally.

Baker Hughes reported a net increase of 5 oil rigs drilling in the U.S. last week. The Permian basin increased by 5, while the Eagle Ford, DJ and Woodford basins all decreased by 1, which were offset by gains in other smaller plays.  

The increased drilling activity is also registering on the Dallas FED’s Texas jobs forecast, as one of several positive leading indicators suggesting the employment recovery from the spring COVID collapse should continue through December.  

Add another refinery to the scrap heap: Portugal’s oil & gas company announced it would shutter the smaller of its two refineries (which has roughly 100mb/day capacity) permanently due to the impact of COVID, and the regulatory environment.

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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