Senate Election Results Impact On Financial Markets

Market TalkWednesday, Jan 6 2021
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We’ve had a busy couple of weeks’ worth of price action so far in 2021, and we’re just starting our third day of trading. Energy prices have gone from the cusp of a technical breakout to the upside, to a huge reversal that threatened a price collapse, and back again to 10 month highs in just two days. Prices are starting Wednesday’s session with more of a wait-and-see approach after being unable to sustain their rally overnight. OPEC-inspired whiplash is getting most of the credit for the big swings in energy markets, while the Senate election results look like they’ll be the big story today that will likely have broader impacts on financial markets.

Saudi Arabia surprised pretty much everyone Tuesday by announcing it would unilaterally cut its oil output by one million barrels/day, which would allow Russia and other countries to increase their output, without flooding the global market as demand continues to sputter. While the move shocked the markets, which responded with a furious rally in oil and refined product futures, it seems to be in some ways the Kingdom making good on the promise it made in the fall to do whatever is necessary to stabilize the global oil markets and teach speculators a lesson. This move also sets the stage for some interesting political theatre once demand returns, as the Saudi’s will no doubt remember those that supported them in this effort, and probably even more those that did not.

Not buying it? As the basis charts below show, differentials for physical prices in most regional U.S. spot markets dropped on the day as cash markets seem to think the current supply/demand realities are not as optimistic as the futures market action suggests. That hesitation by the big physical traders could be enough to stall the momentum in futures, just as they look like they’re breaking technical resistance and poised for another rally. The API report in the afternoon gave more reason for fundamentalists to have doubts about the recent run-up as both gasoline and diesel saw large very large inventory builds last week (5.5 and 7.1 million barrels respectively) but that report seems to have been largely lost in the shuffle of the bigger news stories. The DOE’s report will be out at its normal time today, but you’ll be forgiven if you miss it while watching the election coverage. 

Early results appear to show that Democrats will win both seats in Georgia, flipping control of the Senate, and giving the party control of Congress and the White House for at least two years. There will surely be some selling as control of the legislative and executive branches will no longer be split, assuming the current calls hold, but some other reports suggest we could see some risk assets rally as this change could also make new fiscal stimulus measures easier to sign into law.

For energy markets in particular, a flip in the Senate will almost certainly mean more aggressive laws to combat climate change, which in some cases may mean tighter restrictions on traditional oil producers and refiners. That is not necessarily bearish for prices however as more restrictions tend to mean less supply (and less investment) which could end up driving an extended rally in prices if demand recovers this year.

The reaction in RIN markets today may give us an early indication of how traders in the refined product space view the changing of the guard in the Senate.  RIN prices have already been surging lately, in sympathy with corn and soybean prices that are reaching multi-year highs largely due to concerns over South American grain exports, and this latest bit of news could encourage another strong rally if the market believes the new congress will push for increased renewable mandates. Then again, the RIN market is notoriously volatile, and there could be some buy the rumor sell the news once the current bout of short covering is over. 

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Pivotal Week For Price Action
Market TalkWednesday, Jun 7 2023

Energy Prices Fluctuate: Chinese Imports Surge, Saudi Arabia Cuts Output and Buys Golf

Energy prices continue their back-and-forth trading, starting Wednesday’s session with modest gains, after a round of selling Tuesday wiped out the Saudi output cut bounce. 

A surge in China’s imports of crude oil and natural gas seem to be the catalyst for the early move higher, even though weak export activity from the world’s largest fuel buyer suggests the global economy is still struggling. 

New tactic?  Saudi Arabia’s plan to voluntarily cut oil production by another 1 million barrels/day failed to sustain a rally in oil prices to start the week, so they bought the PGA tour

The EIA’s monthly Short Term Energy Outlook raised its price forecast for oil, citing the Saudi cuts, and OPEC’s commitment to extend current production restrictions through 2024. The increase in prices comes despite reducing the forecast for US fuel consumption, as GDP growth projections continue to decline from previous estimates. 

The report included a special article on diesel consumption, and its changing relationship with economic activity that does a good job of explaining why diesel prices are $2/gallon cheaper today than they were a year ago.   

The API reported healthy builds in refined product inventories last week, with distillates up 4.5 million barrels while gasoline stocks were up 2.4 million barrels in the wake of Memorial Day. Crude inventories declined by 1.7 million barrels on the week. The DOE’s weekly report is due out at its normal time this morning. 

We’re still waiting on the EPA’s final ruling on the Renewable Fuel Standard for the next few years, which is due a week from today, but another Reuters article suggests that eRINs will not be included in this round of making up the rules.

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

Pivotal Week For Price Action
Pivotal Week For Price Action
Market TalkTuesday, Jun 6 2023

Energy Prices Retreat, Global Demand Concerns Loom

So much for that rally. Energy prices have given back all of the gains made following Saudi Arabia’s announcement that it would voluntarily withhold another 1 million barrels/day of oil production starting in July. The pullback appears to be rooted in the ongoing concerns over global demand after a soft PMI report for May while markets start to focus on what the FED will do at its FOMC meeting next week.

The lack of follow through to the upside leaves petroleum futures stuck in neutral technical territory, and since the top end of the recent trading range didn’t break, it seems likely we could see another test of the lower end of the range in the near future.  

RIN prices have dropped sharply in the past few sessions, with traders apparently not waiting on the EPA’s final RFS ruling – due in a week – to liquidate positions. D6 values dropped to their lowest levels in a year Monday, while D4 values hit a 15-month low. In unrelated news, the DOE’s attempt to turn seaweed into biofuels has run into a whale problem.  

Valero reported a process leak at its Three Rivers TX refinery that lasted a fully 24 hours.  That’s the latest in a string of upsets for south Texas refineries over the past month that have kept supplies from San Antonio, Austin and DFW tighter than normal. Citgo Corpus Christi also reported an upset over the weekend at a sulfur recovery unit. Several Corpus facilities have been reporting issues since widespread power outages knocked all of the local plants offline last month.  

Meanwhile, the Marathon Galveston Bay (FKA Texas City) refinery had another issue over the weekend as an oil movement line was found to be leaking underground but does not appear to have impacted refining operations at the facility. Gulf Coast traders don’t seem concerned by any of the latest refinery issues, with basis values holding steady to start the week.

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