Diesel Prices Are Trying To Drag The Rest Of The Energy Complex Higher This Morning

Market TalkThursday, Jul 28 2022
Pivotal Week For Price Action

Diesel prices are trying to drag the rest of the energy complex higher this morning as their weekly rally has now surpassed 40 cents in less than 4 days. Gasoline prices are resisting the pull higher so far, despite some positive demand signals in yesterday’s DOE report, and remain range-bound for now, while WTI is facing a big test near $100.   

We said yesterday morning that the ULSD contract looked like it was ready to make a run at $3.80 after breaking through resistance on the charts around $3.60 and it didn’t waste any time already reaching that mark this morning.  The last time ULSD touched $3.80 3 weeks ago, it dropped 20 cents the next day, so today’s tug of war with gasoline could prove pivotal.  A break and hold above $3.80 opens the door for another 40 cent run higher for diesel, while a failure sets up a drop to the lower end of the July trading range.

All sorts of news out of Washington that may influence markets as the Senate has made a surprise breakthrough on a bill that includes nearly $370 billion in energy and climate change programs, while the commerce department just reported it’s GDP estimate showing the US is now “not officially” in a recession with a 2nd straight quarter of contracting GDP.

Bad news is good news when it comes to the stock market reaction to FED policy, and it seems like the Chairman’s statement that the US economy shows signs of slowing yesterday was enough to send stocks rallying once again, as it implies that the pace of increase for interest rates is going to slow down after their largest increase in over 40 years. The big rally in stocks following that announcement seemed to spill over to the energy arena in the afternoon, but could also create more volatility if today’s confirmation of that economic slowdown sends the big money funds to the sidelines.

If you’re an energy bull, you may note that we’ve already lived through the recession, and yet yesterday’s DOE report showed a healthy recovery in fuel consumption which could mean the worst is behind us…not to mention that the world still doesn’t have a solution to replace Russian natural gas and distillate supplies.  

Notes from yesterday’s DOE Report:

US crude oil exports surged to an all-time high last week north of 4.5 million barrels per day. That means a total of roughly 32 million barrels of oil (more than 1.3 billion gallons) were sent overseas last week, which makes the inventory drop of 4.5 million barrels in total for the week suddenly less impressive. 

Refinery output dropped for a 2nd straight week, with 4 out of 4 PADDs declining, with the Midwest (PADD 2) leading the way with another major decline in run rates. Given the weakness in Group 3 and Chicago basis values, it doesn’t seem like anyone is worried about declining output in the middle of the country - most of which is unable to be exported – although this could spell trouble in the fall if rates don’t pick back up as Gulf Coast facilities seem to have their hands full trying to keep up with demand from Europe and the rest of the Americas.

Demand for gasoline and distillates were estimated to have climbed for a 2nd straight week putting both products back close to their seasonal 5 year averages after dropping below their seasonal range earlier in July. A big drop in gasoline imports, and the decline in refinery run rates are combining with that tick higher in demand to draw inventories lower after more than a month of gains. 

The inventory declines are most pronounced on the East Coast, which helps explain why RFG gasoline in New York is worth 50 cents more per gallon today than it is in Houston, and nearly 70 cents more than its conventional counterparts in the Midwest.

See charts below.

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

Market Talk Update 7.28.22

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Pivotal Week For Price Action
Market TalkThursday, Feb 29 2024

It's Another Mixed Start For Energy Futures This Morning After Refined Products Saw Some Heavy Selling Wednesday

It's another mixed start for energy futures this morning after refined products saw some heavy selling Wednesday. Both gasoline and diesel prices dropped 7.5-8.5 cents yesterday despite a rather mundane inventory report. The larger-than-expected build in crude oil inventories (+4.2 million barrels) was the only headline value of note, netting WTI futures a paltry 6-cent per barrel gain on the day.

The energy markets seem to be holding their breath for this morning’s release of the Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). The price index is the Fed’s preferred inflation monitor and has the potential to impact how the central bank moves forward with interest rates.

Nationwide refinery runs are still below their 5-year average with utilization across all PADDs well below 90%. While PADD 3 production crossed its 5-year average, it’s important to note that measure includes the “Snovid” shutdown of 2021 and throughput is still below the previous two years with utilization at 81%.

We will have to wait until next week to see if the FCC and SRU shutdowns at Flint Hills’ Corpus Christi refinery will have a material impact on the regions refining totals. Detail on the filing can be found on the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality website.

Update: the PCE data shows a decrease in US inflation to 2.4%, increasing the likelihood of a rate cut later this year. Energy futures continue drifting, unfazed.

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
Pivotal Week For Price Action
Market TalkWednesday, Feb 28 2024

It’s Red Across The Board For Energy Prices So Far This Morning With The ‘Big Three’ Contracts All Trading Lower To Start The Day

It’s red across the board for energy prices so far this morning with the ‘big three’ contracts (RBOB, HO, WTI) all trading lower to start the day. Headlines are pointing to the rise in crude oil inventories as the reason for this morning’s pullback, but refined product futures are leading the way lower, each trading down 1% so far, while the crude oil benchmark is only down around .3%.

The American Petroleum Institute published their national inventory figures yesterday afternoon, estimating an 8+ million-barrel build in crude oil inventory across the country. Gasoline and diesel stocks are estimated to have dropped by 3.2 and .5 million barrels last week, respectively. The official report from the Department of Energy is due out at its regular time this morning (9:30 CST).

OPEC’n’friends are rumored to be considering extending their voluntary production cuts into Q2 of this year in an effort to buoy market prices. These output reductions, reaching back to late 2022, are aimed at paring back global supply by about 2.2 million barrels per day and maintaining a price floor. On the flip side, knowledge of the suspended-yet-available production capacity and record US output is keeping a lid on prices.

How long can they keep it up? While the cartel’s de facto leader (Saudi Arabia) may be financially robust enough to sustain itself through reduced output indefinitely, that isn’t the case for other member countries. Late last year Angola announced it will be leaving OPEC, freeing itself to produce and market its oil as it wishes. This marks the fourth membership suspension over the past decade (Indonesia 2016, Qatar 2019, Ecuador 2020).

The spot price for Henry Hub natural gas hit a record low, exchanging hands for an average of $1.50 per MMBtu yesterday. A rise in production over the course of 2023 and above average temperatures this winter have pressured the benchmark to a price not seen in its 27-year history, much to Russia’s chagrin.

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