Markets Spike Following Reports of 90% Effective COVID Vaccine

Market TalkMonday, Nov 9 2020
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Reports of a “90% effective” COVID vaccine have equity and energy markets spiking this morning, with the DJIA and S&P500 both poised to break all-time highs following the news.  Energy futures were already moving 2-3 cents higher overnight as the market was considering the impacts a new U.S. president will have on prices, and then surged another 5-6 cents around 6 a.m. when the vaccine news broke.

The spike is breaking the downward sloping trend-lines on the weekly charts for WTI, ULSD and RBOB, with product prices now 22 cents higher than they were during the overnight selloff November 1. The dramatic reversal sets up a test of the top-end of the summer trading range, which looks like it will be a major technical pivot point to determine if prices continue their sideways action or if we see another 20-30% rally in the coming months.

At some point, it seems we’ll probably get a pullback once it sinks in that there is still a long hard winter ahead of us with COVID case counts soaring around the country and around the world, while this vaccine will still need months to develop and then even more time to produce and distribute. 

The companies that have been putting oil rigs back to work over the past several weeks must be feeling better about their decision this morning as WTI has added more than 10% to its value so far today.  Baker Hughes reported five more rigs were added last week, the seventh consecutive increase, with the Permian basin accounting for the entire move this week.

Money managers on the other hand are probably wishing they had a do-over as they slashed bets on higher prices across the board last week, just in time to miss out on the best rally in the past five months. Earlier this year, Saudi Arabia’s energy minister threatened oil price speculators, and already seems to be holding to that promise, suggesting tweaks to its output cut plans after the widespread selling by large speculative traders last week.

A few interesting reads on how the new President may impact energy markets:

Law360: Biden’s win puts clean energy center stage.

Bloomberg: How Biden’s win affects commodities hit by trade wars.

Reuters: Unresolved Biofuel Policy facing the next president.

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

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Energy Markets Are Trying To Find A Price Floor After Gasoline And Crude Oil Staged A Healthy Bounce To Minimize The Heavy Losses

Energy markets are trying to find a price floor after gasoline and crude oil staged a healthy bounce to minimize the heavy losses we saw early in Tuesday’s session. WTI is leading the move higher early Wednesday, up nearly $.90/barrel in the early going, while RBOB prices are up just under a penny.

Diesel continues to look like the weak link in the energy chain both technically and fundamentally. Tuesday the API reported a 4.9 million barrel build in diesel stocks, while gasoline inventories were only up 365,000 barrels, and crude oil stocks declined by more than 4.4 million barrels. The DOE’s weekly report is due out at its normal time this morning and it’s likely we’ll see a reduction in oil output and PADD 3 refining runs thanks to shut ins ahead of Hurricane Beryl, but otherwise the storm appears to be a relative non-issue with only 1 notable refining hiccup, that wasn’t even as bad as a midwestern Thunderstorm.

Chicago basis values rallied Tuesday after reports that Exxon had shut down the 250mb/day Joliet refinery following severe storms that knocked out power to the area Sunday. RBOB differentials surged nearly 9 cents on the day, while diesel diffs jumped more than a nickel. With 3 large refineries in close proximity, the Chicago cash market is notoriously volatile if any of those facilities has an upset. Back in May there was a one-day spike in gasoline basis of more than 50 cents/gallon after Joliet had an operating upset so don’t be surprised if there are bigger swings this week if the facility doesn’t come back online quickly.

Moving in the opposite direction, California basis values are heading the opposite direction with the transition to August scheduling pressuring CARBOB differentials in LA and San Francisco to their biggest discounts to prompt RBOB futures in more than 18 months. Gasoline imports into PADD 5 have held well above average levels over the past 2 months, which has more than offset the loss of the P66 Rodeo refinery’s output after it completed its conversion to RD production, in another sign of how growing refining capacity in China and other Asian countries may become more influential to the US. California regulators may also pat themselves on the back that their new plans to force refineries to report their gross profit monthly, in addition to the rules requiring all bulk trades in the state be reported must be driving the lower gasoline differentials, assuming they figure out what a basis differential is.

Meanwhile, California’s Carbon Allowance values have tumbled to their lowest levels in a year after a CARB presentation last week suggested the agency would be delaying long-anticipated tightening of the Cap and Trade program until 2026.

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

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The Sell-Off In Energy Markets Continues, With Refined Products Reaching Their Lowest Levels In A Month Early In Tuesday’s Session

The sell-off in energy markets continues, with refined products reaching their lowest levels in a month early in Tuesday’s session. Reports of slowing growth in China, the world’s largest oil purchaser, is getting much of the credit for the slide in prices so far this week, although that doesn’t do much to explain why refined products are outpacing the drop in crude.

ULSD futures are leading the early move lower, trading down a nickel on the day, and marking a 19 cent drop since July 4th. There’s not much in the way of technical support for ULSD, so don’t be surprised if this sell-off continues to pick up steam.

With today’s slide, RBOB futures are down 17 cents from where they were trading on July 4th, and are just a couple of cents from testing their 200-day moving average. Should that support break, it looks like there’s a good chance to test the June lows around $2.29.

Physical markets are not offering any strength to the futures market with all 6 of the major cash markets for diesel across the US trading at a discount to ULSD futures, while only 1 gasoline market is trading at a premium to RBOB futures. That combination of weakness in futures and cash markets is going to be troubling for refiners who are seeing margins reduce during what is traditionally a strong time of year.

The EIA highlighted the energy trade between the US and Mexico in a report Monday, showing that despite so many claims of energy independence from Mexican officials, the actual amount of refined fuels and natural gas bought from the US continues to increase. That’s good news for many US refiners who have become more dependent on Mexican purchases to find a home for their output.

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