2017s Largest Rally Hits on OPEC & US Production Projections

Posted by Kelly Burke on Jul 25, 2017 3:45:14 PM

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Today saw oil prices have the biggest one day rally of 2017 thus far, with WTI Crude surging up 3.3% ($1.55) to settle out at $47.89/bbl. Likewise, refined products surged, with ULSD jumping over 5 cents (+.0516) to 1.5685, and gasoline jumped +.0394 to settle at 1.5962.

So whats going on?

On the global news front, at an OPEC gathering in Russia on Monday, Saudi Arabia pledged to cut Crude exports beginning in August, and Nigeria stated it will cap its production at 1.8 million barrels per day. (WTI closed out up 1.3% at $46.34 on the day Monday immediately following the news. ULSD settled up as well but by a mere 17 points to $1.5169, while gasoline dropped 65 points to close out at $1.5568.)

An important note pointed out by Market Watch regarding the OPEC news, however - its not unusual for the Saudis to drop exports this time of year, and the "cuts" promised by Nigeria are actually at levels higher than they are producing at the moment (they will cap at 1.8mmb and they are currently producing 1.6mmb) so its likely that this news was another somewhat nothing-to-it story out of OPEC that caused a (presumably temporary) jump on the NYMEX, as most OPEC meetings seem to do. 

Today was likely impacted more from domestic news and forecasts than the OPEC news of yesterday. Cuts are looming in the Oil & Gas sector in the U.S., which signals an oncoming slow down in domestic output. Anadarko, one the nations leading oil & gas exploration companies cut investment guidance by $300 million for 2017 after posting losses for the second quarter of over $415 million, or roughly twice estimates. Add this to Halliburton's forecasts for flat to declining rig counts, and projected crude draws on this weeks EIA reporting and you had the perfect storm in place for todays rally. 

 

 

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Topics: CRUDE, OPEC, anadarko

U.S. Inventory Projections Slow Today's NYMEX Losses

Posted by Kelly Burke on May 31, 2017 3:17:20 PM

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The oil markets were down sharply this morning on increasing cynicism that, essentially, global supply will not be driven down sufficiently by either OPEC or "non-cartel" producer production caps, or the summer driving season in the U.S. being upon us (despite the weather here in Boston, technically yes, its summer driving season). 

It would seem that the prior rally was a knee jerk reaction to what basically amounted to a baseless hope that somehow OPEC and other producers would be setting limits that actually addressed the ongoing supply glut, and therefore the lackluster pricing. It was unlikely that would be the case, given that the prior meetings we have seen, despite the hoopla, have also failed to address supply in a meaningful way. 

Despite promising to address the fundamentals involved, we've actually seen some ramp up in production on the part of Libya, Nigeria and Iran - none of which had any sort of ceiling placed on them at the recent gathering. 

We often talk about other countries production as being an unpredictable factor in global pricing & supply, however, it's worth noting that U.S. production has ramped back up substantially as well. Current production is around 9.3 million barrels a day (up over 6% from this time last year) and on the rise.Given this, it's not likely we will see OPEC seriously curb their levels, particularly the Saudi's, as the concern over U.S. encroachment on their market share has been inarguably a major driving factor in the current glut and its failure to resolve. Saudi Arabia has been beyond clear that they are prepared to hunker down and withstand whatever price declines are necessary for market share retention, particularly as concerns the U.S. At this point, it's pretty clear they are not bluffing about that. 

Anyhow - Today, unlike last Thursday's wild plunge,has pared losses as the day goes on, while investors factor in the near term projections on U.S. supply reports (due out tommorow, thanks to the holiday) versus the overall global supply picture.

Platts is projecting a draw down of 3.2 million barrels of crude on tommorow's reports, which would be the 8th week in a row, and definitely helped to stem the bleeding today on the NYMEX by close.

At the close we ended out with Crude at $48.32/bbl, July ULSD at 1.5179 (-.0356) and July Gas at 1.5965 (-0278). 

Stay tuned! 

 

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Topics: OPEC, NYMEX, EIA Inventories

Benchmarks & OPEC & Hurricanes, Oh My

Posted by Kelly Burke on Oct 6, 2016 4:33:46 PM

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Crude closed out today at over $50 ($50.44 to be exact) which is the highest close we've seen since June. ULSD closed up .0135 to $1.5958 and RBOB ended up .0050 at $1.4978.

This week the NYMEX has ticked up steadily on all products, holding firm since OPEC announced they had a tentative agreement in Algiers, despite said agreement not being formalized in any way.

Additionally, this weeks EIA inventory report indicated more product draws as well, which pumped prices almost 2% Wednesday. Analysts had projected builds, but the governments official reporting showed US Crude stockpiles dropped 3 million barrels versus the expected a 2.5 million barrel build forecast by industry projections. 

Despite OPEC chatter and EIA draws, its entirely possible we have already seen an outsized pricing build up on commodities, given that the global demand picture is not an overly rosy one, and supply is not in any way guaranteed to either stabilize or drop anytime in the near future - with or without an OPEC agreement. 

Today (and probably tommorow) whats trending in the news is Hurricane Matthew, which is roaring up the East Coast of Florida currently as a category 4 storm, and would be the strongest hurricane to make landfall in the US in about a decade if it should touch down at its current intensity.

We're hearing reports of local gas outages in the Southeast, as residents flee the coastal areas on the advice of Florida governmer Rick Scott and President Obama. However, given that as its currently tracking, Hurricane Matthew is East Coast centered, versus hitting the Gulf, national or regional supply outages are not anticipated. Obviously all of that could change essentially instantaneously however, and we will let you know what we do, as soon as we do, if there are new relevant developments.

 Stay tuned!

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Topics: OPEC, $50 benchmark, hurricane MAtthew

OPEC "Deal" and Inventory Draws Prop Up NYMEX

Posted by Kelly Burke on Sep 30, 2016 4:33:29 PM

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On Wednesday, OPEC countries made a surprise agreement to cap production at 32.5-33 million BPD at their meeting in Algiers (if you’re keeping score at home, current production is about 33.24mmb.. insert yawn here, in other words). This marked the first deal since 2008, largely on account of Saudi-Iranian tensions – more on that later. Oil spiked on the news before backing off slightly over the remainder of the week.

 

Wednesday saw Brent and WTI both surge up over 5% (5.9 and 5.3, respectively). Wednesday ended the day up across the board, with refined products ULSD and RBOB both up over 8 cents on the day (ULSD $1.4910; RBOB $1.4777) and WTI closed out at $47.05/bbl.

 

Analysts are projecting that the OPEC “deal” could add up to $10/bbl to the price of oil. However it is worth noting that there is a reason we put “deal” in quotes – as we have seen previously OPEC is not shy on talking up oil prices, but when it comes to an across the board agreement and even more importantly, ACTION, on said agreements, the jury is still out. Watch for the ongoing standoff slash game of chicken between the Iranians and the Saudi’s to likely cause this so called deal to amount to little more than a few days of upward trending on the screen versus actual, actionable changes to the fundamental supply glut we still find ourselves in.

 

Thursday saw prices continue to climb on distillates, although in a much less drastic fashion as bigger picture doubts about the OPEC deal set in – these were somewhat offset by another draw down in U.S. inventory levels, however, and as a result we saw ULSD gain $0.0192 to close out at $1.5102, RBOB dropped $0.0109 to close out at $1.4668, while Crude settled relatively flatly at $47.83.

 

The EIA report Thursday indicated a 1.9mmb draw down in commercial crude inventories, more than double the API’s projection of a 752K draw, and the fourth draw down in as many weeks. Distillates mirrored crude, also drawing down 1.9mmb, but gasoline saw a build of 2 million barrels to buck the trend.  The timing worked out well on the inventory draws as far as price stability is concerned, given that by the hour the hope for the OPEC agreement amounting to actual supply cuts fades.

Despite the clear incentive for Riyadh and Tehran to bolster their economies and Thursday’s announcement by the Saudis that they are willing to cap production, it’s almost unimaginable that Iran agrees to cuts post sanction lifting, as has been the case for the past several months.

 

Today we saw October trading expire (doesn’t seem possible!) and November trading kept products range bound with WTI closing out at $48.24, up against yesterday’s number. ULSD closed up as well, settling up $0.0281 for November trading at $1.5383, with gasoline again bucking the trend and settling down 37 points to $1.4631.

 

We ought to in theory see either movement on OPEC next week, or see the market shed the bump in pricing. Longer term, it will be interesting to see how things settle out over the next few weeks as we start heading towards the winter and heating oil season – hopefully a colder one than last year’s, at least up here in the Northeast.  

 

Stay Tuned!

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Topics: OPEC, EIA Inventories, wti

Dwindling OPEC Agreement Hopes Reverse Rally

Posted by Kelly Burke on Aug 30, 2016 4:00:34 PM

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August has been all over the place. Crude futures this month were up 23% in less than 3 weeks as of the 28th. We've bounced from an August 10th low of $41.71 to an August 19th a high of $48.52 -  and today we’re in the middle at $46.35.

So what’s going on?

Last week, optimism reigned. Longs were up and shorts were way down across the board on WTI, RBOB and U.S. ULSD. Citigroup and BOA/ML were saying the global glut is diminishing based on the narrowing Brent discount we were seeing. That was reflected in last week’s rally but we saw that rally reverse yesterday as hopes backed off on just how quickly we might see that supply glut fade.

So what caused the overabundance of hope in just how quickly the supply glut could fade?

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: OPEC countries are set to meet September 26-28th in Algiers for “informal talks” in which the Saudis are reportedly “prepared to listen” to the input of the other OPEC nations in regards to agreeing on output caps to curb global oversupply. This drove the market higher on hopes of an agreement propping up pricing longer term, but hopes on any such agreement coming to fruition have begun to drop off.

Déjà vu all over again.

If you recall, the last OPEC meeting had a similarly framed narrative and a similarly bullish impact on the markets a few weeks out from the meeting before falling off, as it became clear that the conference would fail to produce a deal. There was no agreement on output cuts last go around largely because of Saudi insistence that Iran be a full participant in agreeing to output limits, which the newly un-sanctioned Iran obviously refused to agree to.  Given the dynamic there has not changed substantially it’s hard to imagine that a meaningful deal is reached this time either.  

That seems to be the conclusion that traders reached as well just like leading up to the prior meeting. Today saw Crude close out at $46.35, down marginally from Monday’s close but over a dollar down from Friday’s $47.64. (ULSD and RBOB followed suit, dropping -.0151 and -.0186 respectively for August trading)

What’s becoming interesting about the other dynamics involved in the OPEC meetings is Russia realistically needs an agreement sooner rather than later. While they are not in Venezuela style meltdown yet, a huge portion of their revenue depends on oil and the ongoing standoff with the Saudis on over production for market share retention will presumably hit breaking point at some time, as both Russia and Saudi Arabia hemorrhage money.

Meanwhile, it looks like long term the supply situation may correct itself, and largely courtesy of the Russia/Saudi standoff, somewhat ironically. Bloomberg is reporting that oil discoveries have plummeted to lows not seen in over half a century as a result of ongoing price depression that has halted new discoveries by severely curbing investment in drilling and exploration. This is especially notable in the U.S. where exploration is at multi year lows after the crash in prices from 2014 highs.

So although this OPEC meeting is unlikely to produce an agreement to cut supply and stabilize pricing this time, in an odd twist of fate, ultimately the ongoing standoff may push long term pricing up over time regardless of OPEC input.

Stay tuned!

 

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Topics: OPEC, russia, WTI Crude, saudi arabia, oil glut

OPEC & Inventories Close Out August NYMEX in Bearish Territory

Posted by Kelly Burke on Aug 1, 2016 3:45:26 PM

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After a strong start to the month of July post Brexit, markets settled down again today after closing out August's futures yesterday. 

Today's close saw Crude touching the $40/bbl mark at $40.06/bbl, this coming just a few weeks after it appeared we had essentially rebalanced and analysts were looking at Crude staying range bound $45-$50 bbl. Now we are, according to some analysts, looking at a $38 target.

The last week of July delivered a few knocks courtesy of Reuters who reported on 7/29 that OPEC had produced 100,000 additional barrels per day in July, the increases coming from Iraq and Nigeria. If you recall, Nigeria has been dealing with militia attacks on its oil refineries and recently hit 20-year lows on levels of export.

Incidentally, those Nigerian refinery attacks had pushed Crude to over $50 ($51.23 to be exact) in June, its highest since July 2015 - and now we are seeing Crude start to slide back to April lows after July 2016 saw a drop of over 15%. To put that in perspective, we are still up almost 50% from the low for this year in February but it does appear that once again the bears are in sell mode due to perceived oversupply.

(And keep in mind that "oversupply" is with a Nigeria that has not fully recovered capacity, and with domestic turmoil in Venezuela and Libya limiting their production as well. Essentially - the glut could get a lot worse, very quickly, depending on how the domestic situations play out in those 3 OPEC countries.) 

This summer saw seasonal gasoline stockpiles hit 25 year highs, which according to reports, caused refiners to begin blending winter grade gasoline early. Ironically, refiners made a similar decision in the face of lower winter demand and began blending summer gas early this year, and that is probably partially to blame for high inventories that plagued pricing this summer season. Also of note is that due to these inventory levels, forward market pricing for gasoline was not showing the usual slide that precedes the switch to winter blend gasoline (often of around 20 cents or thereabouts) we normally see starting to develop right around the end of July. 

At the end of the day, despite production disruptions in Canada and Nigeria, anticipated economic fallout from Brexit, more terrorist attacks, and dropping domestic production - supplies have gone from what looked like a rebalancing to oversupply once again. This has kicked the NYMEX back to the bearish side, which still sort of amazing when you think about how sharply a single one of the events just mentioned could have spiked the market prior to the US shale boom.

Stay tuned!

 

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Topics: OPEC, Brexit

Today's Tumble Offsets a Quieter Week for Crude

Posted by Kelly Burke on Apr 1, 2016 5:16:57 PM

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Before todays across the board tumble, the markets had been rather stable this week, comparatively speaking, even in the wake of several major relevant news events and economic reports. Let's start it from the top: 

Initially helping the markets, especially Wall Street - Fed Chair Janet Yellen's comments this Wednesday stated that the Fed would be cautious moving forward, particularly on the subject of inflation, as it keeps an eye on possible foreign market pressures and the extremely mixed-signals economic data that has come out over the past few months. Historically, March jobless numbers come in 40-50K below projections oftentimes, so her comments earlier this week were also seen as a possible hedge against concerns about Wall Street's reaction to Fed policy in the event of a less than stellar jobs report (which did not come to fruition - more on that later). 

The Fed comments didn't help the Dollar on the day, however, which helped keep commodities flat after builds, albeit smaller than expected builds, in U.S. stockpiles. 

Regarding those builds -  Wednesday's weekly EIA Inventory report showed Crude built less than analysts had projected (2.3 mmb versus 3.3mmb projected). Initially Crude was up 2.5% on the reporting, with WTI hitting $39.30 and Brent cracking $40 at $40.17 shortly after.

However, at the close, WTI settled within a penny of the prior day's close at $38.32. ULSD and Gas also showed draws, 2.5mmb on gasoline (which was close to projections), and ULSD drew down 1.1mmb versus a projected 29K build. Both ended the day relatively flat alongside Crude, with ULSD closing at April $1.1597/May $1.1721, and gasoline April $1.4364/May $1.4661.

The major news is the continuing speculation over the OPEC/Non-OPEC meeting (supposedly) coming in April that could result in an agreement on a production freeze in order to stabilize global oil prices.

However, the lingering question has been whether or not Iran would agree to freezing production after the sanctions against the country have just been lifted. It appears more certain by the day that the answer to that question is "NO". The Saudi Oil Minister Thursday night stated that if Iran will not agree to the freeze, basically there will not be one. This of course came on the heels of Iran insisting earlier in the week that it can, and will, consider going back to pre-sanction production levels. 

Personal opinion - there will most likely not be a freeze. In my humble opinion the markets got far too excited and bought too deeply into what, at least to this point, has essentially been rumor and wishful thinking. The ramp up in pricing we've seen over the past few weeks, with WTI breaking $40/bbl (very briefly) is largely a response to the hopes pinned on the OPEC meeting and a belief they will freeze production -a belief that is most likely not founded in reality, but time will tell. If nothing else, the rumors have temporarily "stemmed the bleeding" for major producers, not a terrible end in and of itself from their perspective. 

Thursday was uneventful, with WTI settling 2 cents over prior at $38.34. It was the expiration of April trading, obviously, and May ULSD and Gasoline closed out at $1.1855 and $1.4467, respectively.   

This morning we saw that the  Friday Jobs report pessimism/conspiracy theorism discussed earlier turned out to be for naught.  Analysts had projected gains of 205K jobs for March and the government data came out with a gain of 215K, leaving the unemployment rate at 4.9%. 

The good news is, that's a great jobs number. The bad news for commodities is that number serves to further prop the dollar up, as it maintains the highest level its held versus the Euro in a little over 6 months. (This despite the dollar's slip on Wednesday). 

Both the dollar and stock markets were up today on the strong Jobs report as well as encouraging data from the Manufacturing sector, indicating continuing economic strengthening in the U.S.

Oil however, took a 4% tumble on both a stronger dollar, and (as previously mentioned) increasing skepticism on the OPEC deal. Skepticism on the deal grew exponentially today, after the Saudi Crown Prince today echoed his Oil Minister's earlier sentiments about a needed consensus including Iran in order for a production freeze to become material. 

Baker Hughes rig count today indicated Crude rigs dropped 10, and overall rig count dropped by 14 to a new record low of 450, but oil continued to trend downward. 

At the Close, Crude settled out at $36.79 (-$1.55), ULSD tumbled .0538 to $1.1317 and gas fell .0451 to $1.4016

 

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Topics: CRUDE, OPEC, Yellen, EIA Inventories, fed

Surprise Move by Iran on OPEC Deal Rallies CRUDE

Posted by Kelly Burke on Feb 17, 2016 4:46:25 PM

Middle Eastern Nations flags in a circle around an oil drilling rig

In a suprise move today, the oil minister of Iran stated that Iran would support the effort by OPEC and non-OPEC countries to stabilize the oil market and oil prices. The now-confirmed rumor that the Saudis and Russians were amenable to agreeing on a production ceiling has been circulating for a while, and served to briefly prop prices Tuesday - but the lack of a solid agreement, and the assumption that Iran would not cooperate had backed prices off their intraday highs. 

Today however, was another story entirely. After the Iranian minister announced the intent to cooperate, we saw WTI surge nearly 6% to once again close above the $30 dollar mark at $30.66 - quite a reversal in a short time when you consider that just last Thursday we saw WTI's lowest close since 2003 ($26.21/bbl)! 

ULSD and RBOB came along for the ride today as well, with ULSD jumping over 6 cents to $1.0879, and gasoline closed up over $1 again (barely) at $1.0034, a gain of over 3 cents on the day. Gasoline has been dancing around slightly under the $1 mark over the past week or so, with the exception of Friday's rally where it jumped over 10 cents to $1.0432.

It's difficult to determine if the nebulous "agreement to have an agreement" on the table with OPEC and other producers will sustain a longer term rally. Even if there is an agreement, it isn't clear just how much of a rally it will bolster long term, since the production ceiling sets production at January levels (read: unsustainably high for higher prices levels), it doesnt actually drop production.

That said, Iran not ramping up production will likely help matters in terms of at least mitigating some of what has been ever-increasing supply. Another concern though, should prices stabilize at higher levels - what impact does that have on rig counts and U.S. production? Although dropping rig counts have not proven to be the bullish signal they would normally be, a rising rig count could be a bearish symbol should the market stabilize around the $40/bbl mark, in my opinion, as it may signal the U.S. kicking over the first domino and restarting the game of chicken for "market share by means of over production" the major producing nations have been playing for the past year and a half.  

Time will tell. EIA numbers are not out until Friday this week because of the holiday - it will be interesting to see what impacts they have in the face of a possibly changing global supply picture. 

Stay tuned!

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Topics: Iran, CRUDE, OPEC, russia, wti

CRUDE Rallies Despite Record Inventories

Posted by Kelly Burke on Feb 3, 2016 4:12:50 PM

Oil barrels imposed over a line graph

Another wild week!

Friday we saw March diesel settle at $1.0787 (a far cry from last Mondays $.09353!), and gas closed out at at $1.1031. Crude settled at $33.62/bbl, a rebound of nearly 25% from the prior week's 12 year lows ... but at the close yesterday, compared to Friday's numbers, diesel had shed $0.0678, gas was off $0.1023 and Crude settled below $30 once again, at $29.88.

Today we saw almost a full reversal on Crude and Distillates, with diesel back up within .0001 of Friday's number at $1.0786 (+.0677) and Crude back up to $32.28. Gasoline had a modest bounce back to 1.0137 (+.0129) after yesterdays $0.0822 tumble. 

What's interesting about today's rally is that, at least in my humble opinion, it's essentially the rally that shouldn't have been.

Why? Because the EIA report this morning indicated builds that set inventory records for Crude and Gasoline. Crude inventories built 7.8mmb to 502.7mmb for the week ending January 29th. Gasoline was projected by analysts to build 1.7mmb but instead jumped a whopping 5.9mmb to 254.4mmb. Distillates drew down 777K barrels versus the 1.1mmb projected.

Most of the analyst chatter pegs today's gains on the weakening dollar (off almost 1.5% today as of writing), which can make commodities in general a more attractive proposition - generally speaking the two work opposite each other, when one goes up the other goes down. However, factoring in the last year, it's unlikely a non-precipitous drop on the dollar supports a rally of today's magnitude. 

Another factor at play is the continuing rumors about OPEC and non-OPEC countries coming to agreements on supply cuts to bolster prices. Russia has indicated it would be willing to cooperate with the Saudi's on a coordinated approach, as has Iraq.

However, all of the production talk is just that - talk - which has worked for these countries in terms of short term price bumps, but until there is an actual meeting and agreement it's unlikely to have a long term impact.

U.S. Production is also down thus far in 2016, which may be a factor, since with OPEC keeping production ramped up, we become a "swing player" in terms of global (over)supply. The drop in production last week according to the EIA was 7,000 barrels per day however, not really a significant decline in the big picture. 

Long story short, there are multiple factors that multiple sources are hanging their hats on to explain today's rally (myself included) but the overall market is likely to remain bearish, given inventory levels, weak global demand, and the lack of any real concrete indications that production cuts from oil producing nations are actually forthcoming. 

Stay tuned!

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Topics: Dollar falls, CRUDE, OPEC, russia, EIA Inventories

Rally Reverses on Iraq Output, Continuing Glut

Posted by Kelly Burke on Jan 25, 2016 3:51:26 PM

Line graphs depicting the stock market scattered over a table

Today saw a swift and decisive reversal of last week's out-of-nowhere rally on Crude, Commodities, and Stocks. Not too surprising, given there were really no changes in fundamentals that justified a rally of the magnitude we saw, outside of the ever present fear of supply disruptions whenever the East Coast faces major snowfall, and the market being technically oversold. 

Let's look at the numbers real quick:

Wednesday: Crude hit an astonishing $26.55/bbl, or as the internet expressed it in meme form - cheaper than a bucket of KFC Chicken (apparently thats $28.75). ULSD settled down over 4 to $0.8657, and RBOB adjusted mildly off 85 points to $1.0177.

Thursday and Friday the rally from nowhere kicked in, with Crude surging 4% Thursday and 9% Friday to close out the week.  ULSD was up 13 cents to finish the week just shy of the $1 benchmark, at $0.9957. RBOB jumped modestly Thursday but jumped up over 5 cents Friday to close out the week at $1.0838.

Today we saw the real correction however.

Iraq announced a new record high output for December at over 4 million bpd. Ironically, given the drop, OPEC announced today that there would be a meeting called (reports are by Qatar) to address "cooperation" from non-OPEC countries in curbing supply to stabilize prices. You read that right - NON-OPEC countries.

The market essentially shrugged off the suggestion, as its improbable to impossible that the US would cooperate, and it's equally unlikely Russia, or anyone else will either, especially if the Saudi's, Iranians, and apparently now the Iraqi's as well  have no intention of backing off their production (and therefore market share). 

To wrap it up, today we saw Crude barely stay above the $30 benchmark, settling at $30.34. ULSD tumbled .0604 to $0.9353 and RBOB dropped .0538 to $1.0300. 

Tommorow the API projections may cause ripples, but the major news will likely be Wednesday's EIA report, barring any unforeseen worldly events, of course. 

How low can we go?

Stay Tuned!

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Topics: CRUDE, OPEC, Iraq

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