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Activities Wind Down Ahead Of Long Weekend

Wednesday, Dec 23 2020
Market Talk

Energy futures are trying to bounce after two days of selling, but volumes are shrinking rapidly as traders wind down their activities ahead of the long weekend.  

Both equity and energy markets saw a brief selloff overnight after the U.S. President refused to sign the Stimulus & Spending package passed by congress, but quickly recovered as it became clear that the votes to override a veto were probably available, and the changes requested may actually be approved.

Unless the buyers step in soon, the energy complex is going to snap the seven week-long string of gains, and break the bullish trend-lines in the process. That leaves the complex open to more technical selling, but we’ll need to see prices drop below Monday’s lows (roughly four cents below current values for RBOB and ULSD) before this move will look more like a trend reversal than just a correction.

Although many businesses are closing tomorrow for Christmas Eve, futures will still trade and have an early settlement. Argus and Platts will both be publishing spot prices Thursday, but OPIS will not. (OPIS Rack pricing will be published as normal) Most rack prices will be updated Thursday and run through the weekend. Since Christmas falls on a Friday this year, futures trading will not reopen as it normally does, giving traders a rare holiday without any electronic trading to keep an eye on.

Refining margins have recovered during the recent run-up, and the forward curve is showing better times ahead for those plants that can survive the COVID demand crisis. The billion dollar question is how long that demand recovery will take, and if margins can hold on once run rates start increasing once again. There is some good news coming from Asia, as Indian refiners cranked up run rates to their highest levels since COVID began, following similar increases from China and Japan as demand comes back online.

The API reported a build in crude oil and diesel stocks of 2.7 million and 1 million barrels respectively, while gasoline inventories had a small decrease of 224,000 barrels. The build in crude stocks surprised those that expected a draw down in inventories as we approach year end. We’ll see later this morning if the DOE report confirms that estimate. 

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

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