Stock Markets And Energy Prices Moving Higher This Morning

Market TalkFriday, Nov 4 2022
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Stock markets and energy prices are both moving higher this morning following more reports that China is relaxing its COVID restrictions which would – theoretically at least – get the world’s 2nd largest economy back in growth mode.  October’s Jobs report is due out in a few minutes, but with the FED already making it clear that a pivot isn’t coming soon this week, that report may have less influence than normal. 

Correlations between energy and equity and currency markets have been fairly weak recently, but particularly for RBOB gasoline prices, they’ve been getting noticeably stronger over the past several sessions, and that news at least in part is contributing to the 9-cent gains in gasoline in the early going.

Reverse Cannon Ball run?  Diesel prices in LA are $1.40/gallon below those in New York today as diesel calendar spreads surged again Thursday and NYH premiums spiked north of 90 cents/gallon, while LA spots continue to wither.  NYH remains the outlier, trading at least 60 cents above all other US cash markets today, which should continue drawing barrels from far and wide, with strained capacity on pipelines, rail, trucks and vessels, steep backwardation, weather delays, and stiff competition from Europe being the only 7 limiting factors in resupplying the region.

California reported that diesel production in the state surged to a 2-year high last week, which was foreshadowed by basis prices for ULSD plummeting to a 50-cent discount to December futures earlier this week. Gasoline output went the opposite direction, with a large decline on the week, which was also foreshadowed by a rally in CARBOB basis values to a 60+ cent premium to futures.

Valero’s 290 mb/day refinery in Corpus Christi had multiple operating units shut by a fire Thursday, which was contained onsite without any injuries. While it’s unclear exactly which units were closed, or how long they may be offline, the Gulf Coast spot market seemed to shrug off the news, suggesting that event may either have minimal impact on operations or traders are just waiting to see how quickly restart commences.

The 180 million barrel sale of oil from the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve concluded Thursday, with the final 15 million barrels – which were announced last month as if they were a new release in a sign of the straw grasping taking place to deal with high energy prices – auctioned off, with deliveries scheduled in December.  It’s hard to argue that those sales of roughly 1 million barrels daily into the global market didn’t help cool down oil prices, but the question remains whether or not depleting half of the reserves will come back to bite us. 

The storm formerly known as Hurricane Lisa has made it into the Gulf of Mexico, but forecasts suggest the storm will not be able to regain its strength and rotation thanks to heavy wind shear in the area, which means the Gulf Coast refinery network may have dodged another bullet.   Meanwhile, Hurricane Martin is moving through the North Atlantic and is expected to weaken as it moves over that cold water, but still could bring damaging winds and rain to the UK.  2 other systems are still being tracked off of the SE US but given low odds of development.

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Market Talk Update 11-04-22

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Pivotal Week For Price Action
Market TalkFriday, Jun 9 2023

Refined Products Bounce Back And Forth Across The Break-Even Line To Start Friday’s Trading

The choppy action continues for energy markets with refined products bouncing back and forth across the break-even line to start Friday’s trading after some big swings Thursday.

RBOB futures led the rollercoaster ride Thursday, trading up 4 cents in the early morning hours, only to see those gains turn into 10 cent losses mid-morning, and then erasing most of those losses in the early afternoon following an ENT report of unplanned maintenance at the largest refinery on the East Coast.  

The selling portion of the ride was blamed on a combination of an increase in jobless claims, and the disruptive impacts of the Canadian wildfires on the major population centers along the East Coast. While air traffic has been disrupted, so far there are not any reports of delays in ship traffic around the New York Harbor, and the strong basis and time spreads we’ve seen in NY have been easing this week, so it appears that this event is more concerning to the demand side of the equation than supply. 

From a technical perspective, it’s not surprising to see this type of back-and-forth action as most petroleum contracts look to be stuck in neutral territory on the charts, which encourages trading programs to sell as prices get towards the top end of a range, and buy when it gets to the low end. 

The Atlantic Hurricane season is off to a quiet start with no tropical development expected over the next week, but NOAA did issue an El Nino advisory Thursday that suggests the warm-water pattern in the Pacific could reach “supersized” levels and create all sorts of disruptive events. Perhaps most notable in the report is that forecasters don’t believe this year’s El Nino will have the same dampening impact on Atlantic hurricanes due to record warm temperatures in the water. Here’s a brief recap in case you missed the most memorable El Nino from 25 years ago. 

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Pivotal Week For Price Action
Market TalkThursday, Jun 8 2023

Gasoline Futures Rally Despite Inventory Builds, Increased Throughput

Gasoline futures led another strong rally in the energy complex Wednesday and continued marching higher overnight before pulling back to near break-even levels around 7:45am central.

The RBOB contract has now wiped out the post-Memorial Day selloff, and erased the losses from the contract roll to July, setting up another test of the May highs at $2.73. If that resistance breaks, there’s a good chance we see another run at the $2.90 level, but if it holds we are probably still stuck in a sideways pattern as we move through the summer months.  West Coast gasoline prices meanwhile have reached a 3-month high as surging basis values compound the move in futures. 

The rally came despite healthy inventory builds for refined products and strong refinery runs across all 5 PADDs reported last week, with traders (or their algorithms) appearing to focus instead on healthy demand estimates in the DOE’s weekly status report. Gasoline also saw healthy exports last week, while diesel shipments overseas continued their decline which has helped keep downward pressure on diesel prices, which is essentially the polar opposite of what we were experiencing a year ago.

Lies, damned Lies and statistics:  PADD 3 refinery utilization hit 98.8% of the official capacity figure last week, which would mark a 5 year high, except the numbers are wrong. The DOE still isn’t including recent capacity additions of almost 300mb/day in those stats, so the actual figure is about 3% lower. Don’t worry though, the lack of accurate data probably isn’t intentional. The DOE recently announced it was suspending data collection for some of its monthly reports as the agency is still struggling to overcome the IT Systems failure they experienced a year ago. Add this to the realization that the official crude production and petroleum demand figures have been incorrect due to a lack of clarity surrounding condensate production that comes along with oil output.   

Speaking of which, the official US Oil output figure surged to the highest levels since the COVID lockdowns began more than 3 years ago last week. No word from the EIA if this means actual production increased, or if they’ve just changed the way they’re reporting the molecules coming out of the ground.

Irving Oil released a statement highlighting a strategic review of the company, that could include selling the business that’s been held by the Irving family for nearly 100 years. The Irving Refinery in New Brunswick is Canada’s largest at 300mb/day and is the largest importer of fuels into the northeastern US. Critics are arguing that the review is an attempt to politicize Canada’s Clean Fuel Regulation that could weigh on the refinery’s profitability when it goes into full effect in July or could simply incentivize the facility to send more product to the US.

RIN values saw their first bounce in a couple of weeks, with both D6 and D4 values climbing back above the $1.40 mark after their recent slide from the mid $1.50s. We’re still 6 days away from the EPA’s deadline to issue the final RFS ruling for the next couple of years.

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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.

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