Markets Caught In Another “Risk Off” Wave
Energy and equity markets are caught in another “risk off” wave to start the week, as concerns over a second wave of coronavirus continue to dominate business headlines. The early sell-off is threatening a break of the weekly bullish trend line, which threatens a move back into the $20’s for WTI and Brent if that chart support can’t hold, which would drag refined products back below the one dollar mark.
The IEA published a study analyzing the change in energy demand in a work-from-home environment, noting the sharp drop in emissions from vehicles, offset to some degree by an increase in residential electricity and natural gas demand. It’s not just energy demand that is shifting in the work-from-home era, sugar demand is expected to drop for the first time in over 40 years as a result.
Baker Hughes reported seven more oil rigs taken offline last week, bringing the total U.S. oil and gas rig count to yet another record low. If you’re looking for the bright side in yet another rig reduction, this was the smallest weekly decrease in the 13 reports since the COVID-19 shutdown began. It’s hard to say which is more notable, the fact that drilling rigs have dropped by 71 percent in less than three months, or that there are still 199 rigs actively drilling new oil wells in this environment.
Money managers continue to make minimal changes in their petroleum contract holdings, according to the latest report from the CFTC. The large speculative category of trader saw modest increases in WTI and Brent length last week, while refined products saw small decreases.
BP issued a press release this morning that revised its long-term price assumptions for oil due to expected economic damage from COVID-19, and said it was planning on taking non-cash write downs of around $15 billion (give or take a couple billion) as a result. This type of write down it likely to become a theme when Q2 earnings reports are released as prices only started to drop in the last few weeks of Q1.