Energy Futures Drift Higher Ahead Of Fed Announcement

Market TalkWednesday, Jun 14 2023
Pivotal Week For Price Action

After two days of large back and forth swings to start the week, energy futures are quietly ticking higher this morning as markets around the world await the FED’s latest announcement later today. Refined products had been bouncing back and forth across the break -even line in the early going but are holding gains of 2-3 cents around 8am central, adding to Tuesday’s recovery rally.   

Gasoline prices remain near the middle of their recent trading range, with a neutral technical outlook after the annual spring “driving season” rally seems to have run its course. ULSD prices meanwhile are creeping towards the top end of the trading range that’s held prices for the past 2 months. If we see prices move above $2.45 that would open door for a run at $2.60 short term, even though longer-term charts suggest this sideways pattern may just be a temporary consolidation of the bear market that’s already seen prices drop by more than $2.50/gallon in the past 9 months.

Just about everyone expects the FOMC to hold rates steady in its announcement due out at 1pm central today. The CME’s FedWatch tool shows a 94% probability that the target rate will be left alone today, a big increase from the 74% odds given prior to yesterday’s CPI report that showed inflation holding in most categories besides fuel prices.  More people are betting on at least 1 more rate increase to combat that less “transitory” inflation, with odds of at least a 25 point increase now set at 40% up from 24% prior to the CPI report.

The API reported inventory builds across the board last week with gasoline stocks up 2 million barrels on the week, diesel up 1.4 million and crude oil up 1 million thanks to another release from the SPR of 1.9 million barrels on the week. The DOE’s weekly report is due out at its normal time, and may be largely shrugged off due to the other news of the day, not to mention that several of the more meaningful data points are admittedly inaccurate.

OPEC’s monthly report showed the cartel making good on earlier promises to cut production, with output for the month down 464,000 barrels/day, despite healthy output increases from Nigeria and Iran, who are exempt from the output cuts. The report highlighted stronger than expected economic activity in the first quarter of 2023, and suggested China’s reopening will continue to keep fuel demand on an upward trajectory, despite signs of slowing in developed nations. The OPEC report also highlighted an increase in refinery runs and decrease in margins as facilities ramp up operations to full run rates after a busy spring maintenance season and Chinese export quotas are expected to continue bringing more supply to the global market. Margins for US operators remain above those in Europe and Asia, although this report does not normalize spreads for the costs of various environmental programs. 

Speaking of which, the EPA announced it was delaying its RFS volume targets – again – on Tuesday. The timing and method of delay are even more suspect than normal (keep in mind we’re already 19 months past the law’s deadline) as the EPA had to convince biofuel trade association Growth Energy to go along with the plan, which seems to imply a favorable outcome for renewable fuel proponents. The RIN market disagreed with that theory however, with a flurry of afternoon trades done after the announcement that pushed 2023 levels down 4 cents from levels done in the morning.

While OPEC thinks China’s economic recovery is continuing, China doesn’t seem to think so as the country prepares to provide new economic stimulus and perhaps cut its interest rates tomorrow, in an effort to prop up stalling growth. 

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

Market Talk Update 06.14.2023

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Pivotal Week For Price Action
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