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

Stocks & Oil Markets Take a Wild Ride Into 2016

Posted by Kelly Burke on Jan 6, 2016 3:25:23 PM

Line charts depicting the stock market scattered on a table

The last day of trading in 2014 saw Crude close out at $53.27/bbl, which was down 45% from the prior year. 2015 continued the trend with WTI dropping another 30% over the year - with December 31, 2015 settling out at $37.04.

This week we crashed down through the $35-36 dollar support levels and are rapidly approaching the next one of $32.50/bbl after todays tumble resulted in Crude closing out at $33.97/bbl.

Let's take a step back and look at what went on this week to push oil prices down 8% since December 31st.

Monday, January 4th, markets initially shot up with ULSD and RBOB both jumping over a nickel by 10am (+.0516 and +.0576, respectively), before almost immediately changing course - both products were down by noon to flat on ULSD and only up .0156 on gas. So what happened?

Monday brought the news that the Saudi's had cut all diplomatic ties with Iran and ordered all Iranian diplomats to leave the country within 24 hours. This was in response to the Kingdom executing 47 people over the New Years weekend, including and most importantly, a renowned Shiite cleric, which prompted riots and vandalism to the Saudi embassies in Iran and Bahrain. 

As the day went on however, the analysis of the story moved from fear of international conflict bumping up cost over supply disruptions, to the realization that the standoff between Iran and Saudi Arabia meant that this could essentially be the death knell for OPEC. As far as the bears see it, this breakdown of relations essentially guarantees the Saudis will not take any moves to cut production in order to stabilize pricing, because to do so would greatly help Iran, in that the newly allowed exports they promise to flood the markets with would generate them much more revenue. 

Economic data from China Monday supports the bears as well. It was a factor in pushing down oil prices, as well as being responsible for crushing European markets and resulting in the single worst year opening for the Dow Jones since 1932. Overnight, Chinese stocks crashed over 7% and led to a halt in trading across the board - a halt that didnt come soon enough not to pummel stocks internationally. One can only hope the old Wall Street adage "As goes January, so goes the year" is wrong this time. 

There was some bouncing around Tuesday, particularly on the overnights as investors and analysts weighed the API projections that predicted draws in Crude stocks to be announced Wednesday. However, today's EIA report showed just the opposite, and swiftly tanked the market across the board. At the close, ULSD lost -.0446 to settle at 1.0807, RBOB shed almost ten cents (-.0949) to close at 1.1618 (very close to the $1.10 support level) and Crude settled down $2 at $33.97.

What next? Bears are predicting oil hits and potentially breaks through the $32.50 support level for a brief stint in the upper 20's ($28 range), while the Bulls are predicting a jump back to the $37 level. We shall see. 

Stay Tuned!

 

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Topics: Iran, EIA, CRUDE, OPEC, API report, FED rates

OPEC Holds Firm on Output Levels

Posted by Kelly Burke on Dec 4, 2015 3:45:47 PM

Line charts depicting the stock market scattered on a table

This past week has been a wild one.

Wednesday we saw WTI shed almost $2/barrel (4.6%) to close out under $40 at $39.94/bbl and both ULSD and RBOB shed over 6 cents each (-0641 and -0699, respectively) on the EIA Inventory report, which once again showed unexpected builds.  Crude inventories built 1.2mmb, marking the 10th consecutive week of builds.  

An additional weight on oil and other commodities was the dollar, which surged to a 12 year high after the Fed indicated they were likely to move forward with a rate hike. (Friday's strong jobs report makes that even more likely).

Thursday the reverse situation happened, as investors and traders waited with baited breath on the hopes that OPEC would come to a consensus at Friday's meeting to lower output.

Today however, its official - OPEC did not come to any formal policy change and will not be cutting production or lowering the ceiling. Iran has been vocal and vehement for the past few weeks that they would absolutely refuse any cuts in production just when Western Sanctions are coming down and allowing them to reenter the market. They plan to come online at as much capacity as possible in Tehran, and the Saudi's essentially cited the "complication" of Iran's new ability to ramp up output as the reason today's meeting was fruitless. 

Predictably, oil was down on the announcement, as it effectively seals the deal in terms of all but guaranteeing the oil glut not just continues, but worsens. (Crude settled at $39.97, down from Thursday's $41.08)

The pressure now will be on higher cost producers like the US. However, that's been the case (and the OPEC strategy) to some degree for over a year now and hasn't solved the problem. The real losers in the lack-of-a-deal are the smaller OPEC and non-OPEC oil producing countries who lack the capital reserves of countries like Saudi Arabia - namely Brazil, Venezuela, etc. If oil continues to slide, we could start seeing serious economic impacts and unrest in oil-revenue dependent nations.

Stay Tuned!

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Topics: OPEC, FED rates, Dollar Strengthens, oil glut

IEA Forecasts and Inventory Numbers Push Commodities Closer to New Lows

Posted by Kelly Burke on Nov 13, 2015 3:48:09 PM

Line charts depicting the stock market scattered on a table

And down we go again - today WTI closed down almost 3%  (the final close was 40.74), which is around an 8% loss on the week. Brent came within 2 dollars of a low not seen in over 6 years, and also ended the week at around an 8% loss, according to Reuters.


To round out the board - RBOB dropped .0342 to 1.2389, a multi month low, and ULSD dropped to 1.3813, a loss of .0253.

So what's going on?

The IEA is forecasting global oil demand growth to drop to 1.2mmb per day throughout 2016, as compared to the 1.8mmb per day we've seen this year. Given that the 1.8mmb has clearly not been robust enough demand to stop prices from crashing, the IEA announcement doesn't bode well for any serious and sustained price rebound anytime soon, if we ignore other factors that we can't predict (geopolitical escalations, etc).

IEA also announced that OPEC oil inventories are at a record almost 3 billion barrels for September, and this weeks EIA Inventory report showed a build of 4.2 million barrels of US Crude, as well as a spike in production.

Rig counts were up for the first time in 11 weeks as well, according to Baker Hughes.

There's been a lot of reporting this week that over 20 million barrels of Crude are sitting on cargo ships backing up in the Gulf Coast, which is approximately double the usual amount. If you recall, there was some reporting a few weeks ago about ships backing up at other major ports outside of China and the Arab Gulf as well, that had contributed to prior drops on basically what amounts to visible evidence of an extreme oversupply.

When you factor these items in with a dollar that continues to strengthen, it's less than surprising that prices are continuing to slide across the board to multi month lows.

Stay Tuned!

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Topics: OPEC, Dollar Strengthens, EIA Inventories, IEA

Crude ends the Week in the Red on Strong Dollar, Supply

Posted by Kelly Burke on Oct 23, 2015 2:52:47 PM

Line charts depicting the stock market scattered on a table

Crude prices are on track to be down around 5% on the week. There were some initial jumps this morning on hope that the newly announced Chinese Stimulus Package could ramp up demand. Prices reversed sharply and quickly, however, as the dollar continues to crush other currencies, which almost universally sends commodities in general on a slide. 

On Wednesday prices touched near 3 week lows on the EIA reporting yet another gain in US Inventories, despite our being into the typical "slow down" phase, when refineries go offline for maintainance, and despite continuing drops in rig counts (and therefore a theoretical drop in production).

Also, on Wednesday morning we still had a sliver of hope that the OPEC meeting would come out with supply cuts - nope, wrong again. Now we will have to wait until the December 4th policy meeting of OPEC to know for sure if there will be supply cuts, but it seems extremely unlikely to most-  as the Saudi's have demonstrated, their main goal is market share retention, and they seem to accept that the crumbling economies of other oil producing countries is essentially a cost of doing business (much to the chagrin of those countries).

However, Bloomberg and others are reporting that the low pricing is starting to hurt for Saudi Arabia as well, as reportedly they have deferred payments to government contractors as the country begins to slide into a deficit. (Excellent read on MarketWatch on the subject here: "Will fiscal pain of low prices force Saudi Arabia's hand ). 

Thursday saw a quick reversal, but again, that's history now on the back of the dollar. The European Central Bank stated they are looking at "options" for economic stimulus for the Eurozone, which thus far has only really pushed the euro lower versus the dollar, and weighed on Crude and other commodities. 

At the close today, WTI settled the week at 44.60, and Brent at 48.02. (ULSD closed down -.0106 on the day to 1.4544 and RBOB was down slightly by -.0031 to 1.3036)

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Topics: European Economy, CRUDE, OPEC, Dollar Strengthens, brent, wti

Crude jumps 4.9% on Rising Tensions, Dropping Rig Counts, and Russia

Posted by Kelly Burke on Oct 6, 2015 3:32:20 PM

Oil barrels laid over an upwards growing line chart

Yesterday we saw Crude jump almost 2% on a weaker dollar and speculations about Russia and OPEC’s upcoming meeting. Today more fuel was added to the fire (no pun intended) and we saw Crude continue to jump, settling out up an additional 4.9% to $48.53/bbl. Going along for the ride, ULSD closed up (+.0632) to 1.6115 and RBOB jumped (+.0509) to 1.4362.

What’s going on?

Primarily Russia and their proposed meeting with the Saudi’s on energy projects and outlooks, as discussed yesterday. (for a quick refresher, read this: Russia, OPEC and a Weaker Dollar - Oh My!).

Interestingly, before the meeting news broke on Monday, the Saudi’s had abruptly announced they would be slashing the price of their oil exports to retain market share – not a good sign for the global economy (demand), or the global supply situation. But the signal that OPEC may be willing to talk, specifically that the Saudi’s are, has more than eliminated any pull back the price cut could have been expected to have.

 Additionally, the Baker Hughes rig count report indicated further drops (down an additional 29), causing Goldman Sachs to project that US production will drop by 225,000 barrels per day in 2016. Reuters is also reporting that Libya’s production has fallen below 25% of the levels it sustained prior to the ouster of Ghaddafi.

Its possible traders are seeing at least a slow-down in the growth of the oil glut on the heels of these news items, reading it as a bullish signal for prices, and acting accordingly.  

There is rumor of a Chinese stimulus attempt as well, aimed at ramping up economic growth in that country, and therefore oil demand. As we’ve discussed before, news out of China is almost always a big driver of market moves, as they’re still the “hail Mary pass” on global economic recovery everyone is holding out for. Positive news from China = Positive numbers on the screen.

Keep in mind - the tense standoff between the US and Russia in Syria may become an increasing factor over time. Yesterday the Russians violated Turkish airspace, and we’ll have to see if there’s more sabre rattling from the Russians, or equally likely, hawkish overreaction by the US or NATO.

Stay Tuned!

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Topics: CRUDE, OPEC, Stimulus, russia, china

Russia, OPEC and a Weaker Dollar - Oh my!

Posted by Kelly Burke on Oct 5, 2015 3:38:37 PM

Line charts depicting the stock market scattered on a table

The markets are up across the board today, from stocks to Crude oil. 

ULSD was up +.0284 to 1.5483, and RBOB shot up +.0439 to 1.3853, front month, at the close. WTI Crude was up almost 2% to close at 46.26/bbl. 

What happened?

Reportedly, Russia is open to talks with OPEC and other oil producing nations to discuss pricing and global supply. Although no actual meeting has been proposed, traders were still optimistic, and both WTI and Crude jumped up on the news. (Prices were also bolstered by a perceived weakening dollar – more on that in a moment.)

Additionally, apparently Russia and the Saudi’s have a meeting scheduled this month to discuss energy projects, and one can probably assume this will include how they will approach the OPEC meeting, if there ends up being one.

On Wall Street, disappointing job numbers from last week, coupled with a statement from the Boston Fed Chair that growth would have to be hitting 2% target rates to justify an interest rate increase resulted in a semi consensus that the odds the interest rate goes up in October is around 10%. As a result, stocks were up….but for how long?

While the Fed delay was good for Wall Street today, it’s not really a good sign bigger picture, both for Wall Street and the US in general. We saw one effect of that today, where the jump in commodity pricing can be somewhat pegged on the dollar starting to weaken on soft economic data and the implication that the US economy is not strengthening on its anticipated trajectory, as implied by the Fed delays.

Something of note internationally, that could have broad impacts on the markets, is that tensions between the US and Russia are approaching Cold War levels as Russia continues air strikes in Syria. The strikes, ostensibly part of a multifaceted attack on ISIS in Syria have apparently actually been hitting anti-Assad rebels, who are at least nominally supported by the US. To add another splash of gasoline to the fire, this weekend a Doctors without Borders hospital was bombed in Afghanistan, and it appears a US aircraft may have been involved, which could obviously have devastating international consequences, both geopolitically and otherwise.

Stay tuned!

 

 

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Topics: OPEC, FED rates, Syria, russia, WTI Crude, ISIS

Fed Holds Interest Rates, Oil Drops after Wednesday's Gains

Posted by Kelly Burke on Sep 18, 2015 3:14:46 PM

Line charts depicting the stock market scattered on a table

Oil prices continued to tumble early this week - that is until the Wednesday EIA report came out and spiked prices on Crude up 6%. The report showed that Crude stockpiles fell by 2.1mmbbls for the week ending September 11. Additionally, Distillate stocks dropped by 3mmbbl, and gasoline dropped 2.84mmb. That explains Wednesday, when we saw Crude jump up to settle at $47.15 (Tuesday's close was $44), ULSD jumped .0414 to $1.5414, and RBOB jumped .0492 to $1.3821 (it could have been worse - intraday highs were over 5 up on diesel and 6 up on gas!).

Today is trending down like yesterday, with ULSD down .0390 to $1.4907, and gas down .0198 to $1.3562. WTI closed out at $44.68.

The Federal Reserve announced late Thursday that it will not be increasing interest rates at this time, based on concern about global economic growth. This has pushed oil prices down, because global concern means we're unlikely to see a spike in demand that would ease concerns about the oil glut we've been dealing with. As you'd expect, there's been some demand/use increase because of the lower prices we've been seeing, however its simply not robust enough to really make a sizeable dent in the oversupply. 

The issue with the Fed's statement outside of the grim outlook is they are still suggesting a rate hike this year, probably December. That means we will probably see the same up and down volatility with stocks and oil prices as we have seen over the past few months while waiting for this now-passed deadline. 

Rig counts are down in the US again, according to Baker Hughes' report, which may stem some production, but again, not likely to be a huge mover one way or the other. Refineries will be going on scheduled maintainence soon which may lower Crude stockpiles for a while, we'll have to wait and see on what impact that has. Across the globe, OPEC is still maintaining they will not be stemming production, and Iran has stated they intend to come fully back online as soon as sanctions no longer suppress their output. 

On the political side - the House Committee on Energy voted this week to move a bill proposing the repeal of the Crude Export Ban to the floor for a vote. Obama is likely to threaten veto, and its unclear if it will even get through the Senate to force said veto, but it is a potential bright spot for US producers and refiners that the bipartisan bill is moving to the floor.

(If you want to brush up on some of the issues regarding the Crude Oil Export Ban, you can do so in these articles: "Is it Time to Overturn the Crude Export Ban?" and "Energy Security, Not Independence, Should be the Goal" )

Stay tuned!

 

 

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Topics: US Crude Exports, FED holds interest rates, CRUDE, OPEC, EIA Inventories

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