Equity And Energy Prices Have Been Moving Modestly Higher Since The FOMC Announcement

Market TalkThursday, Dec 16 2021
Week 21 - US DOE Inventory Recap

Equity and energy prices have been moving modestly higher since the FOMC announcement was released Wednesday afternoon, snapping the losing streak that gripped most markets in the front half of the week.  That sigh of relief rally sets up another test of the downward sloping trend-lines that have had refined products under pressure for the past two months, with the $2.17 area for RBOB and $2.28 for ULSD pivotal levels to watch if a longer term bear market is going to be avoided. 

The FED announced an accelerated reduction in its bond buying programs, increasing their taper by roughly double the previous schedule, and also forecast 3 rate increases in 2022.  While this announcement marks one of the most dramatic course changes in the FOMC’s history, it apparently was less severe than many in the market were anticipating following the record inflation readings over the past few months, as equities and energy prices all rallied following the news, while the US Dollar declined, and the probabilities of rate increases for 2022 actually ticked slightly lower.

Refined product prices were already reversing course from early morning losses after a DOE report that surprised with some bullish readings. 

The DOE’s weekly estimate for US Petroleum demand reached an all-time high last week, surpassing 23 million barrels/day for the first time on record. Diesel demand led the move with an incredible 36% increase week on week, marking the highest weekly reading since 2003. Those figures are taken with a large grain of salt however as the DOE’s weekly estimates are notoriously volatile, and particularly this time of year we tend to see a huge recovery rally in the weeks after Thanksgiving, only to see demand tumble to its lowest levels of the year the last week of December and the first week of January.

Gasoline demand also saw a healthy increase, that helped drive a counter-seasonal decline in gasoline stocks. Here too, a strong recovery after the Thanksgiving holiday hangover makes sense, but there are plenty of signs that demand may already be under pressure from the rash of severe storms that have swept most of the country over the past week. 

Speaking of which, another round of severe storms swept from New Mexico to Minnesota Wednesday, with hurricane force winds reported in numerous spots. So far, there haven’t been reports of damage or power loss to refineries in the storm’s path, so it may be a non-issue for fuel supply. 

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

Market Talk Update 12.16.2021

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Market TalkThursday, Mar 30 2023

Refined Products Are Moving Lower For A 2nd Day After Coming Under Heavy Selling Pressure In Wednesday’s Session

Refined products are moving lower for a 2nd day after coming under heavy selling pressure in Wednesday’s session. Rapidly increasing refinery runs and sluggish diesel demand both seemed to weigh heavily on product prices, while crude oil is still benefitting from the disruption of exports from Iraq. Prices remain range-bound, so expect more choppy back and forth action in the weeks ahead.

US oil inventories saw a large decline last week, despite another 13-million barrels of oil being found in the weekly adjustment figure, as imports dropped to a 2-year low, and refinery runs cranked up in most regions as many facilities return from spring maintenance.

The refining utilization percentage jumped to its highest level of the year but remains overstated since the new 250,000 barrels/day of output from Exxon’s Beaumont facility still isn’t being counted in the official capacity figures. If you’re shocked that the government report could have such a glaring omission, then you haven’t been paying attention to the Crude Adjustment figure this year, and the artificially inflated petroleum demand estimates that have come with it.

Speaking of which, we’re now just a couple of months away from WTI Midland crude oil being included in the Dated Brent index, and given the uncertainty in the US over what should be classified as oil vs condensate, expect some confusion once those barrels start being included in the international benchmark as well.  

Diesel demand continues to hover near the lowest levels we’ve seen for the first quarter in the past 20+ years, dropping sharply again last week after 2 straight weeks of increases had some markets hoping that the worst was behind us. Now that we’re moving out of the heating season, we’ll soon get more clarity on how on road and industrial demand is holding up on its own in the weekly figures that have been heavily influenced by the winter that wasn’t across large parts of the country.

Speaking of which, the EIA offered another mea culpa of sorts Wednesday by comparing its October Winter Fuels outlook to the current reality, which shows a huge reduction in heating demand vs expectations just 6-months ago.  

It’s not just domestic consumption of diesel that’s under pressure, exports have fallen below their 5-year average as buyers in South America are buying more Russian barrels, and European nations are getting more from new facilities in the Middle East.

Take a look at the spike in PADD 5 gasoline imports last week to get a feel for how the region may soon be forced to adjust to rapidly increasing refining capacity in Asia, while domestic facilities come under pressure

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
Market TalkWednesday, Mar 29 2023

Crude Oil Prices Are Trying To Lead Another Rally In Energy Futures This Morning

Crude oil prices are trying to lead another rally in energy futures this morning, while ULSD prices are resisting the pull higher. Stocks are pointed higher in the early going as no news is seen as good news in the banking crisis.

WTI prices have rallied by $10/barrel in the past 7 trading days, even with a $5 pullback last Thursday and Friday. The recovery puts WTI back in the top half of its March trading range but there’s still another $7 to go before the highs of the month are threatened. 

Yesterday’s API report seems to be aiding the continued strength in crude, with a 6 million barrel inventory decline estimated by the industry group last week. That report also showed a decline of 5.9 million barrels of gasoline which is consistent with the spring pattern of drawdowns as we move through the RVP transition, while distillates saw a build of 550k barrels. The DOE’s weekly report is due out at its normal time this morning. 

Diesel prices seems to be reacting both to the small build in inventories – which is yet another data point of the weak demand so far this year for distillates – and on the back of crumbling natural gas prices that settled at their lowest levels in 2.5 years yesterday and fell below $2/million BTU this morning. 

While diesel futures are soft, rack markets across the Southwestern US remain unusually tight, with spreads vs spot markets approaching $1/gallon in several cases as local refiners go through maintenance and pipeline capacity for resupply remains limited. The tightest supply in the region however remains the Phoenix CBG boutique gasoline grade which is going for $1.20/gallon over spots as several of the few refineries that can make that product are having to perform maintenance at the same time. 

French refinery strikes continue for a 4th week and are estimated to be keeping close to 1 million barrels/day of fuel production offline, which is roughly 90% of French capacity and almost 1% of total global capacity. That disruption is having numerous ripple effects on crude oil markets in the Atlantic basin, while the impact on refined product supplies and prices remains much more contained than it was when this happened just 5 months ago.

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

Pivotal Week For Price Action