Chances Of Stimulus Package Points Equity Markets Higher

Market TalkMonday, Oct 19 2020
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It’s a quiet start to the week, with most energy markets moving slightly lower on the day. The sideways trading patterns are still intact for most petroleum futures, with longer term charts favoring more downside this winter. Equity markets are pointed higher to start the week, with credit being given to increasing chances of a stimulus package being forced through congress this week. 

China’s refinery runs dipped in September, but remained higher than a year ago and are close to the all-time highs set this summer. That sounds bullish on its own, but inventories are also rising, suggesting that supply is outkicking its coverage from the demand recovery, and will put downward pressure on product prices in the months to come. European refiners are getting squeezed by the increase in Asian refinery capacity, and their own climate laws that are forcing more plants out of business. Something to watch near term is if Brexit negotiations mean more gasoline from the UK will be forced to go to the U.S. to avoid tariffs from the EU.

Money managers trimmed their net length in WTI and RBOB contracts last week, but while adding some small positions in Brent and ULSD. Enthusiasm continues to be lacking in the money flows to energy contracts, as the outstanding positions for most categories of trader are much smaller than they’ve been in years past. 

After 10 years, the CFTC finally passed a rule (which was required as part of the Dodd Frank regulations passed after the financial crisis) placing position limits on speculative positions in a variety of contracts in the energy, agriculture and metal markets. It’s no surprise that something that took a decade to agree on would be controversial, and reading the dissenting opinions of CFTC commissioners sheds light on the potential loopholes in the rule. With open interest already on the decline as the funds who tried to convince retail investors that oil futures were a safe investment are now limping towards the exits, it looks unlikely that we’ll notice anything different following the passing of the new rule. 

Baker Hughes reported 12 more oil rigs were put to work last week, a fourth straight weekly increase, and the largest since January. The interesting part of the increase this week is that Utah and Wyoming – which had just one active oil rig between them last week – saw five new rigs put to work. It’s much less surprising that Texas had seven rigs added, although none of them were in the Permian. 

Epsilon is expected to be named as a storm in the next day or two, with the NHC giving the system 100% odds of further development today. The storm is expected to stay offshore as it heads north past Bermuda, and should not approach the U.S. Coast, although some delays for vessel traffic along the East Coast could occur due to strong winds and some coastal flooding potential. The system in the Caribbean is still given just 20% odds of development.

A federal court ruled Friday that a default had occurred on PDVSA’s long-contested bonds, which were deemed valid and enforceable by the decision. That decision could ultimately force a sale of Citgo, which was used as collateral for the bonds, but the U.S. refinery is still protected by the U.S. treasury sanctions on Venezuela, at least through January.

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Market TalkFriday, May 17 2024

The Recovery Rally In Energy Markets Continues For A 3rd Day

The recovery rally in energy markets continues for a 3rd day with refined product futures both up more than a dime off of the multi-month lows we saw Wednesday morning. The DJIA broke 40,000 for the first time ever Thursday, and while it pulled back yesterday, US equity futures are suggesting the market will open north of that mark this morning, adding to the sends of optimism in the market.

Despite the bounce in the back half of the week, the weekly charts for both RBOB and ULSD are still painting a bearish outlook with a lower high and lower low set this week unless the early rally this morning can pick up steam in the afternoon. It does seem like the cycle of liquidation from hedge funds has ended however, so it would appear to be less likely that we’ll see another test of technical support near term after this bounce.

Ukraine hit another Russian refinery with a drone strike overnight, sparking a fire at Rosneft’s 240mb/day Tuapse facility on the black sea. That plant was one of the first to be struck by Ukrainian drones back in January and had just completed repairs from that strike in April. The attack was just one part of the largest drone attack to date on Russian energy infrastructure overnight, with more than 100 drones targeting power plants, fuel terminals and two different ports on the Black Sea. I guess that means Ukraine continues to politely ignore the White House request to stop blowing up energy infrastructure in Russia.

Elsewhere in the world where lots of things are being blown up: Several reports of a drone attack in Israel’s largest refining complex (just under 200kbd) made the rounds Thursday, although it remains unclear how much of that is propaganda by the attackers and if any impact was made on production.

The LA market had 2 different refinery upsets Thursday. Marathon reported an upset at the Carson section of its Los Angeles refinery in the morning (the Carson facility was combined with the Wilmington refinery in 2019 and now reports as a single unit to the state, but separately to the AQMD) and Chevron noted a “planned” flaring event Thursday afternoon. Diesel basis values in the region jumped 6 cents during the day. Chicago diesel basis also staged a recovery rally after differentials dropped past a 30 cent discount to futures earlier in the week, pushing wholesale values briefly below $2.10/gallon.

So far there haven’t been any reports of refinery disruptions from the severe weather than swept across the Houston area Thursday. Valero did report a weather-related upset at its Mckee refinery in the TX panhandle, although it appears they avoided having to take any units offline due to that event.

The Panama Canal Authority announced it was increasing its daily ship transit level to 31 from 24 as water levels in the region have recovered following more than a year of restrictions. That’s still lower than the 39 ships/day rate at the peak in 2021, but far better than the low of 18 ships per day that choked transit last year.

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

Pivotal Week For Price Action
Market TalkThursday, May 16 2024

Energy Prices Found A Temporary Floor After Hitting New Multi-Month Lows Wednesday

Energy prices found a temporary floor after hitting new multi-month lows Wednesday morning as a rally to record highs in US equity markets and a modestly bullish DOE report both seemed to encourage buyers to step back into the ring.

RBOB and ULSD futures both bounced more than 6 cents off of their morning lows, following a CPI report that eased inflation fears and boosted hopes for the stock market’s obsession of the FED cutting interest rates. Even though the correlation between energy prices and equities and currencies has been weak lately, the spillover effect on the bidding was clear from the timing of the moves Wednesday.

The DOE’s weekly report seemed to add to the optimism seen in equity markets as healthy increases in the government’s demand estimates kept product inventories from building despite increased refinery runs.

PADD 3 diesel stocks dropped after large increases in each of the past 3 weeks pushed inventories from the low end of their seasonal range to average levels. PADD 2 inventories remain well above average which helps explain the slump in mid-continent basis values over the past week. Diesel demand showed a nice recovery on the week and would actually be above the 5 year average if the 5% or so of US consumption that’s transitioned to RD was included in these figures.

Gasoline inventories are following typical seasonal patterns except on the West Coast where a surge in imports helped inventories recover for a 3rd straight week following April’s big basis rally.

Refiners for the most part are also following the seasonal script, ramping up output as we approach the peak driving demand season which unofficially kicks off in 10 days. PADD 2 refiners didn’t seem to be learning any lessons from last year’s basis collapse and rapidly increased run rates last week, which is another contributor to the weakness in midwestern cash markets. One difference this year for PADD 2 refiners is the new Transmountain pipeline system has eroded some of their buying advantage for Canadian crude grades, although those spreads so far haven’t shrunk as much as some had feared.

Meanwhile, wildfires are threatening Canada’s largest oil sands hub Ft. McMurray Alberta, and more than 6,000 people have been forced to evacuate the area. So far no production disruptions have been reported, but you may recall that fires in this region shut in more than 1 million barrels/day of production in 2016, which helped oil prices recover from their slump below $30/barrel.

California’s Air Resources Board announced it was indefinitely delaying its latest California Carbon Allowance (CCA) auction – in the middle of the auction - due to technical difficulties, with no word yet from the agency when bidders’ security payments will be returned, which is pretty much a nice microcosm for the entire Cap & Trade program those credits enable.

Click here to download a PDF of today's TACenergy Market Talk, including all charts from the Weekly DOE Report.

Pivotal Week For Price Action