U.S. President Tests Positive For COVID-19

Market TalkFriday, Oct 2 2020
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Big red numbers are flashing across energy and equity markets after the U.S. President and first lady announced they’d tested positive for COVID-19 late Thursday night. Financial markets were already jittery this week over the potential negative economic impacts of climbing case counts and an ugly election season, and this news just creates more uncertainty in both areas.

The early wave of selling in petroleum futures sets up a test of the mid-September lows around $1.06-$1.07 for RBOB and ULSD. If prices can hold support, this is likely to be remembered as nothing more than the latest crazy news story in the craziest year any of us can remember. If prices break through that support however, we might look back at this as the catalyst that finally broke the complex out of its four-month-old sideways trading pattern and sent product prices on another extended trip below $1/gallon.

September’s payroll report showed another month of strong job growth in the U.S. as the COVID economic recovery continues. 661,000 jobs were estimated to be added during the month, which took the headline unemployment rate down ½ % to 7.9% while the U-6 rate dropped by 1.4% to 12.8%. Those numbers are good, but still highlight the long road to recovery for the U.S. economy that lays ahead, and were largely ignored based on the lack of price reaction as traders seem preoccupied with the other news of the day. 

That storm system that had been churning in the Caribbean for the past week is now given 90% odds of developing into Tropical Storm Gamma by the weekend according to the NHC. It’s still too soon to say where it will go from there, but it’s likely to enter the Gulf of Mexico next week and yet another Gulf Coast hit is a possibility at this point. An EIA note this morning highlights how Hurricane Laura impacted crude production in the Gulf more than any storm since 2008. The Lake Charles refineries are still trying to recover from Laura’s direct hit, and the last thing they need right now is yet another storm system to complicate those efforts.

Today’s interesting read: A Bloomberg article detailing how JP Morgan manipulated metals and treasury markets, and how they got caught. While this was the big fish caught by the CFTC recently, numerous other announcements in the past week show that the agency has its hands full dealing with other bad actors across numerous markets.

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

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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.

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