Rumors That Beijing Will Ease Restrictive Protocols Seemed Reason Enough For Trader To Push WTI Futures Higher Last Week

Market TalkMonday, Nov 7 2022
Pivotal Week For Price Action

Whether or not China will ease its COVID lockdowns are broadly taking credit for the last week of crude oil price action. Rumors that Beijing will ease restrictive protocols seemed reason enough for trader to push WTI futures higher last week, while the news over the weekend that the status quo will be maintained for now has oil prices sinking modestly to start today. Both American and European oil futures are trading down .6% this morning.

Good news for our friends across the pond: warmer-than-expected temperatures are forecast for the next couple of weeks and are expected to dampen natural gas and heating oil demand. While that may mean good news for Europeans using those products to heat their homes, distillate prices in the New York Harbor market are still seeing premiums approaching $1 per gallon over the prompt month futures contract. It doesn’t look like the Northeast will see any price relief on diesel and/or heating oil until the trans-Atlantic arbitrage window has closed.

Open interest in WTI crude oil futures was the only one that rose last week and traders continued to shy away from participating in energy markets to the extent we’ve grown accustomed to over the past few years. The mix of ‘who thinks the markets’ going where’ shifted however, with the “smart” money increasing their net long positions in crude oil futures, increasing their bets on higher prices.

Tropical Storm Nicole is currently churning just west of the Bahamas, and is expected to make landfall on Florida’s east coast early Thursday morning. The NHC graphic currently shows Nicole maintaining it’s storm status ahead of its mainland impact, but mentions that there is a possibility for it to develop into a Hurricane before hitting the Bahamas. Regardless of what we call it, heavy rains, coastal flooding, and strong winds are all expected along the storm’s path. Impact to US energy infrastructure is expected to be minimal at this time.

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Market Talk Update 11.07.2022

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Pivotal Week For Price Action
Market TalkFriday, Mar 1 2024

Oil Futures Are Leading The Energy Complex In A Modest Rally To Begin March Trading

Oil futures are leading the energy complex in a modest rally to begin March trading, with WTI and Brent both up around $1.50/barrel, while refined products are adding around 2 cents in the early going.

RBOB gasoline futures rolled to a summer-grade RVP with the April contract in prompt position this morning. West Coast cash markets are already converted to summer grades, so they’re holding their premiums to futures, while the markets east of the Rockies are now trading at substantial discounts to futures as they move through their remaining winter-cycles over the next 4-6 weeks. The high trade for the April RBOB contract last month was just north of $2.63, which sets the first layer of resistance to a March madness gasoline rally just about 3 cents north of current values.

While gasoline looks somewhat bullish on the charts, and has seasonal factors working in its favor, diesel prices look weak in comparison with prices reaching a 6-week low Thursday before finally finding a bid, and the roll to April futures cut out 3 cents from prompt values. Diesel prices also don’t enjoy the seasonal benefits of gasoline, with a winter-that-wasn’t offering no help for supplemental diesel demand to replace natural gas in the US or Europe.

Speaking of winter weather, the West Coast continues to get the worst of it in 2024, with a casual 10 feet of snow with 100+ mile an hour wind gusts hitting the Sierra Nevada range. While the worst of that winter storm is happening far from the coast, the San Francisco bay area is under a gale warning starting this afternoon.

The wildfires in the Texas panhandle are now the largest in state history, impacting more than 1 million acres of land. The P66 Borger refinery is caught between the blazes, but so far has not reported any operational issues or plans to change operations at the facility. Valero’s McKee refinery is located just 50 miles from Borger, but looks to be far enough north and West to not be threatened by the fires, for now at least.

Mass Exxodus? A Reuters report noted that Exxon had notified its traders that it was cutting their salaries, in another sign that the major’s move back into trading wasn’t going so well. Exxon’s Exodus has already been a bit of a joke for the past few years, and now that the traders are being targeted, don’t be surprised if the cube photos are taken to a new level.

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

Pivotal Week For Price Action
Market TalkThursday, Feb 29 2024

It's Another Mixed Start For Energy Futures This Morning After Refined Products Saw Some Heavy Selling Wednesday

It's another mixed start for energy futures this morning after refined products saw some heavy selling Wednesday. Both gasoline and diesel prices dropped 7.5-8.5 cents yesterday despite a rather mundane inventory report. The larger-than-expected build in crude oil inventories (+4.2 million barrels) was the only headline value of note, netting WTI futures a paltry 6-cent per barrel gain on the day.

The energy markets seem to be holding their breath for this morning’s release of the Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). The price index is the Fed’s preferred inflation monitor and has the potential to impact how the central bank moves forward with interest rates.

Nationwide refinery runs are still below their 5-year average with utilization across all PADDs well below 90%. While PADD 3 production crossed its 5-year average, it’s important to note that measure includes the “Snovid” shutdown of 2021 and throughput is still below the previous two years with utilization at 81%.

We will have to wait until next week to see if the FCC and SRU shutdowns at Flint Hills’ Corpus Christi refinery will have a material impact on the regions refining totals. Detail on the filing can be found on the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality website.

Update: the PCE data shows a decrease in US inflation to 2.4%, increasing the likelihood of a rate cut later this year. Energy futures continue drifting, unfazed.

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