Energy And Equity Market Daily Price Movement Correlations Highest In 2 Years

Market TalkMonday, Jul 24 2023
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The rally continues in energy markets with refined products jumping another nickel to fresh 3-month highs this morning, on the heels of US equity markets that are suddenly acting like the risks of recession are receding. The correlation between daily price movements in energy and equity markets is at the highest level we’ve seen in more than 2 years, which helps explain the recent run-up in futures even when fundamentals still suggest all is not well for oil producers and refiners.

WTI has broken through its 200-day Moving Average for the first time in nearly a year this morning, which could be a catalyst for more buying if prices can maintain these levels. Then again, the 3 other times in the past year we saw prices attempt to break this resistance layer, heavy selling followed soon after. ULSD prices are trading above $2.80 for the first time since March 28th and could open the door for another run at $3 if current levels hold.  Here too, there’s a cautionary tale, as the last time we saw distillates break $2.80, they dropped below $2.65 the very next day.

The strength in gasoline is somewhat counter-seasonal as we’ve already put the 2 biggest driving season holidays in the rearview mirror, but prices are now within just 5 cents of their highs for the year. Physical players don’t seem to be buying the futures hype with time and basis spreads both showing weakness while financial prices push to new highs, suggesting that supply tightness is not driving the recent upward momentum. There has been concern that recent unplanned maintenance at the P66 Bayway refinery, and the long-planned 5-year turnaround at the Monroe refinery in Trainer PA could cause some tightness along the East Coast, but the drop in basis values, and premiums to ship gasoline on Colonial all suggest the big physical players aren’t worried.

Money managers seemed conflicted last week after multiple weeks of strong buying in energy futures, which many believed was driven by hedge funds jumping on the Saudi Output cut bandwagon. Last week saw ULSD and Brent contracts face heavy liquidations of length and new short bets driving sharp reductions in speculative length, while WTI, RBOB and Gasoil contracts continued to gain.

Another mixed message: the surge in speculative bets on higher WTI prices coincides with a large decline in total open interest held in the legacy crude oil contract. Brent’s open interest is holding steady, suggesting the move away from WTI has more to do with new contracts competing with the land-locked NYMEX hub than a move away from energy completely. Refined products are also seeing a resurgence in open interest with both ULSD and RBOB touching 17-month highs last week as the decline in volatility seems to be bringing traders back that had been forced out of the market during last year’s costly chaos.

Maybe it’s just too hot out? Baker Hughes reported more heavy declines in drilling rates last week, with oil rigs dropping by 7 to a fresh 16-month low, while natural gas rigs dropped by 2. Texas continues to lead the slide lower with a net decrease of 7 rigs last week, while Utah of all places saw an increase of 2 rigs. So far this recent slowdown in drilling hasn’t impacted production much, with the EIA’s weekly report still showing steady output, particularly when including the 1-2 million barrels/day of condensate that’s not (yet) classified as oil.

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

Market Talk Update 07-24-23

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Market TalkFriday, Sep 29 2023

The Energy Bulls Are On The Run This Morning, Lead By Heating And Crude Oil Futures

The energy bulls are on the run this morning, lead by heating and crude oil futures. The November HO contract is trading ~7.5 cents per gallon (2.3%) higher while WTI is bumped $1.24 per barrel (1.3%) so far in pre-market trading. Their gasoline counterpart is rallying in sympathy with .3% gains to start the day.

The October contracts for both RBOB and HO expire today, and while trading action looks to be pretty tame so far, it isn’t a rare occurrence to see some big price swings on expiring contracts as traders look to close their positions. It should be noted that the only physical market pricing still pricing their product off of October futures, while the rest of the nation already switched to the November contract over the last week or so.

We’ve now got two named storms in the Atlantic, Philippe and Rina, but both aren’t expected to develop into major storms. While most models show both storms staying out to sea, the European model for weather forecasting shows there is a possibility that Philippe gets close enough to the Northeast to bring rain to the area, but not much else.

The term “$100 oil” is starting to pop up in headlines more and more mostly because WTI settled above the $90 level back on Tuesday, but partially because it’s a nice round number that’s easy to yell in debates or hear about from your father-in-law on the golf course. While the prospect of sustained high energy prices could be harmful to the economy, its important to note that the current short supply environment is voluntary. The spigot could be turned back on at any point, which could topple oil prices in short order.

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

Pivotal Week For Price Action
Market TalkThursday, Sep 28 2023

Gasoline And Crude Oil Futures Are All Trading Between .5% And .8% Lower To Start The Day

The energy complex is sagging this morning with the exception of the distillate benchmark as the prompt month trading higher by about a penny. Gasoline and crude oil futures are all trading between .5% and .8% lower to start the day, pulling back after WTI traded above $95 briefly in the overnight session.

There isn’t much in the way of news this morning with most still citing the expectation for tight global supply, inflation and interest rates, and production cuts by OPEC+.

As reported by the Department of Energy yesterday, refinery runs dropped in all PADDs, except for PADD 3, as we plug along into the fall turnaround season. Crude oil inventories drew down last week, despite lower runs and exports, and increased imports, likely due to the crude oil “adjustment” the EIA uses to reconcile any missing barrels from their calculated estimates.

Diesel remains tight in the US, particularly in PADD 5 (West Coast + Nevada, Arizona) but stockpiles are climbing back towards their 5-year seasonal range. It unsurprising to see a spike in ULSD imports to the region since both Los Angeles and San Francisco spot markets are trading at 50+ cent premiums to the NYMEX. We’ve yet to see such relief on the gasoline side of the barrel, and we likely won’t until the market switches to a higher RVP.

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