Energy And Equity Markets Are Celebrating Signs Of Slowing Inflation With A Big Price Rally

Market TalkThursday, Aug 11 2022
Pivotal Week For Price Action

Energy and equity markets are celebrating signs of slowing inflation with a big price rally, which in the case of refined products, will likely end the streak of declining retail prices, aka start increasing inflation again. Refined products are making a strong case that the summer price floor is in, with RBOB futures up 37 cents since Friday’s lows, and ULSD futures up 34 cents since bottoming out Monday. Now that we have at least a temporary floor in prices the question becomes whether the bulls will make another run, or if we’ll be stuck in a sideways price purgatory pattern for the coming weeks?

For RBOB , the next test looks to be the August high at $3.14, and if that breaks, a run to $3.36 looks likely as trading programs will look to fill the chart gap left behind by the ridiculously severe backwardation from the August to September contracts. Speaking of which, this rally may well be the last big move for RBOB prices of the year (unless there’s a hurricane) as we will transition to winter grade specs in just over a month.

For ULSD, the low $3.50s mark a good short term pivot point, and have already repelled one rally attempt overnight. If buyers can breach that level, a run back to $3.80 looks likely before month end.

Yesterday’s DOE status report showed that import/export flows continue to have major influences on US fuel stockpiles. Gasoline exports surged to their highest level since 2018 last week, and gasoline imports declined again, pushing total gasoline stocks sharply lower on the week, and stocks along the East Coast (PADD 1) to an 8 year low. Those extremely low inventory levels have helped push NY Harbor gasoline basis levels back to 50 cent premiums over their USGC counterparts, and sent the price for leasing space on Colonial to a new 8 year high. 

Diesel and crude oil inventories meanwhile both saw healthy builds as exports slowed last week from the record setting pace we’ve seen earlier in the summer. Don’t expect that trend to last, particularly for distillates, as we head into the busier demand times of the year with the fall harvest and winter heating seasons.

Gasoline saw a strong recovery in its weekly demand estimate, after last week showed figures lower than the COVID summer of 2020, but US consumption remains below last year’s levels and the 5-year seasonal average. Refinery runs did increase in all 5 PADDs, with the East Coast seeing the highest run rates since the PES refinery blew up in 2019 after PBF restarted a unit at its Paulsboro NJ facility that had been shut down due to weak economics following the pandemic.

OPEC revised its global economic and oil demand outlooks in its monthly report released this morning, citing the slowdown in Q2 GDP that we won’t call a recession. The report held supply forecasts steady, and noted that a lack of liquidity in energy commodities is adding to the price volatility we’re experiencing. The cartel’s output increased by 216mb/day in July, led by increases in Saudi Arabia, UAE and Kuwait, which were partially offset by declines in Venezuela, Libya and Iran.

A new $5.5 billion greenfield refinery project is being proposed in Texas, which would be the first new large refinery built in the US in nearly 50 years should it move beyond a pipe dream. The pitchers of the plan claim the new facility would reduce carbon emissions by 95% compared to traditional refineries, and would begin operations as soon as 2025 IF the project can clear the same major financing and permitting hurdles that have doomed every other new refinery project proposed in the past half century. 

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

Market Talk Update 08.11.22

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Market TalkFriday, May 24 2024

Selling Continues In Energy Markets After Thursday's Reversal Rally Ran Out Of Steam In The Afternoon

The selling continues in energy markets after Thursday’s reversal rally ran out of steam in the afternoon, following the lead of U.S. equity markets which had a big sell-off on the day. Prices haven’t yet fallen below the multi-month lows we saw early last week, but we’re just a couple of cents away from those levels, and the potential technical trapdoor that could lead to sharply lower values over the next couple of weeks.

We did see a brief spike in gasoline futures after the settlement Thursday following reports that Colonial had shut down Line 4 due to an IT issue, but those gains were short-lived as the pipeline was restarted without issue a few hours later. Those who remember the chaos of May 2021 after Colonial was hacked are breathing a sigh of relief, particularly on one of the busiest demand days of the year, while others are no doubt disappointed we won’t get to see the rash of fake photos of people filling up plastic bags with gasoline.

OPEC & Friends (AKA the DoC) announced they’re moving June’s policy meeting to a virtual-only affair, which the market is taking as a signal of the status quo being held on output cuts.

Chicago being Chicago: Tuesday’s 60-cent basis spike was officially wiped out by Thursday afternoon, suggesting the short-lived rally was just short covering in an illiquid market rather than a meaningful supply disruption.

RIN values continued their rally this week, touching a 4-month high at 59 cents/RIN for both D4 and D6 values Thursday. If you believe in technical analysis on something like RINs, you can see a “W” pattern formed on the charts, suggesting a run to the 80-cent range is coming if prices can get above 60. If you are more of a fundamentalist, then you’ll probably think this rally is probably more short-term short-covering by producers of RD who have changed their schedule buying back their RIN hedges for volume they’re no longer planning to produce.

NOAA issued its most aggressive Hurricane forecast ever Thursday, joining numerous other groups that think a La Nina pattern and record warm waters will create more and bigger storms this year. With the activity level seeming to be a foregone conclusion at this point, now it’s all about where those storms hit to know if this busy season will be a huge factor in energy supplies like we saw in 2005, 2008, 2012 and 2017. With the Houston area already being bombarded by floods and deadly wind this year, the refinery row across the U.S. Gulf Coast seems even more vulnerable than normal to the effects of a storm.

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

Pivotal Week For Price Action
Market TalkThursday, May 23 2024

Gasoline Prices Have Finally Found A Bid, Trading Up 3 Cents On The Day

Gasoline prices have finally found a bid, trading up 3 cents on the day after coming within a penny and a quarter of the multi-month lows set last week overnight. ULSD prices are also up a couple of cents in the early going after wiping out the gains they made last week. Both contracts are once again threatening a technical breakdown that could push prices another 20-30 cents lower if the current bounce isn’t sustained.

The EIA’s estimate for gasoline demand surged to a 7-month high last week, capping off a 4th straight week of gains that puts total consumption near the top end of the seasonal range after a very sluggish start to the year. AAA estimates that travel this Memorial Day weekend will approach a 20 year high with nearly 44 million people hitting the roads.

The EIA also published a note this morning showing average US gasoline prices are up 1% from last year, accompanied by a chart showing that average prices are down 7 cents/gallon from this time last year. The spread between retail gasoline prices on the West Coast vs the rest of the country continues to grow and is shown to be over $1.20/gallon thanks to Oregon and Washington’s Californication of their energy policies in recent years.

The EIA still seems to be struggling to figure out its accounting methods for crude oil inventories, with the adjustment factor that’s been creating all sorts of confusion the past couple of years flipping from a negative 200,000 barrels/day last week, to a positive 1.4 million barrels/day this week. You could give the EIA compilation crew a break and say that this reflects just how large and complex the US crude oil supply network is, or you could ask how did they suddenly “find” 10-million barrels of oil that they didn’t see last week.

Refiners are cranking up run rates, exceeding the levels we’ve seen this time of year in either of the past 2 years. Those higher run rates are added to the glut of diesel products that’s hanging over the majority of the country, and pushing rack spreads to levels we haven’t seen since the COVID lockdown in several markets.

The export market for US crude and refined products remains very busy with nearly 10 million barrels shipped out of the country every day. Refinery throughput was 16.2 million barrels/day last week, and more than 6 million barrels/day was exported even though gasoline and diesel exports have stagnated this year. The anticipated tick higher in US diesel exports following the rash of Russian refinery attacks has not materialized, which is no doubt contributing to the negative sentiment for diesel prices over the past month. The busy and growing export market for crude and other products also creates an interesting dynamic as we prepare for a busy hurricane season to kick off in a week as any disruption to infrastructure along the Gulf Coast could limit product going out of the country almost as much as it disrupts products flowing inland.

Basis values for RBOB in Chicago dropped 30 cents Wednesday after Tuesday’s 60 cent spike. It’s still unclear what if any impacts the confirmed fire at Exxon’s Joliet refinery, or the rumored upsets at BP’s Whiting facility have had on actual supply in the region, but the quick pullback suggests this is a flash in the pan rather than the start of a prolonged supply shortage.

Exxon reported a leak at its Beaumont TX Chemical plant, but it appears that upset isn’t impacting the operations at its adjacent refinery.

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