Energy Market Updates

International Issues Increase, but Positive Domestic News Keeps Futures Stable

Posted by Kelly Burke on Jul 23, 2014 4:42:01 PM

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Futures ticked down yesterday on positive domestic economic news, even as international turmoil escalated. Inventories were expected to show draws, but other economic data out indicates the economy is continuing to recover. The CPI (consumer price index) was up 0.3%, and existing home sales came in up 2.6%, both of which are good indicators. Today, gasoline continued downward, closing down -.0206 but ULSD inched up a little to 2.8754 (up 0.0212 on the day). Not too shabby considering all the insanity internationally. 

Here's a quick rundown of the international issues that could play out in the markets in the coming days:  

In the wake of the tragic Malaysian aircraft crash, tensions between Russia and the West have hit almost Cold War proportions. Russia and Ukraine both wasted no time blaming the other for causing the crash, and the US jumped in and immediately implicated Russian Seperatists in Ukraine for launching the fatal missle. France and the US are proposing further sanctions, with the US sanctions targetting financial and energy companies by way of denial of bonds with a 90 day plus maturity. 

Today, two Ukrainian fighter jets were shot down by Russian seperatists, lending creedence to the theory that seperatists downed the Malaysian jet, and perhaps implying that sanctions against Russia may be escalated, which could potentially have an impact on markets.

Israeli ground troops invaded Gaza earlier this week after a ceasefire agreement was violated by Hamas in under 4 hours. Tuesday afternoon the FAA grounded all US flights to or from Israel for at least 24 hours on concerns of a Malaysian like incident after a rocket struck within a mile of Israels largest airport. Israel called the US flight cancellations a "coup for hamas", at least on a PR level, which isnt helping urge reconsideration of a cease fire on either side.

Hopefully, in addition to international crises being negotiated, the Domestic news will continue to suggest a strengthening economy and mitigate price spikes.... Stay tuned! 

 

 

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Topics: Commodities, Futures, russia, ukraine,, Hamas, Israel

NYMEX Continues Losing Streak Despite New Middle East Concerns

Posted by Kelly Burke on Jul 9, 2014 2:59:42 PM

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By the Numbers:

Monday marked the 7th straight session oil futures dropped, which is the longest we had seen since December of 2009. Tuesday accelerated the drop off, with ULSD closing down -.0409 and RBOB dropping -.0161 to 2.9729. 

This morning it appeared US Crude may erase some of the drop off over Israeli/Hamas fighting that has erupted this week, but the downward trend has continued - albeit less rapidly. ULSD closed off 25 points to 2.8711 and RBOB closed down -.0352 to 2.9377

Whats Going On:

The spikes we saw in June mainly stemmed from concerns about the Iraqi/ISIS conflict and subsequent fears of interrupted supply. So far though, exports from Iraq have remained stable and uninterrupted, which has let prices ease off. Even European Brent Crude has gone back to pre-Iraqi tension levels. 

Also - remember those Libyan ports that were seized by rebels last July and have remained offline since? Well it looks like they will finally be coming back online, which could up Libyan exports by up to 800,000 barrels per day. The caveat here though, is prior discussions on moving Libyan exports back up have fallen through, so theres no guarantee on what production levels they'll actually hit.

What to Watch For:

The potential storm cloud on the horizon is the Israel vs. Hamas situation unfolding. Palestinian officials are reporting over 35 killed and 300+ wounded in Gaza  as a result of Israeli airstrikes. The strikes have reportedly hit over 450 locations in Gaza, while Hamas has launched rockets far deeper into Israel than before - hitting tech centers, Tel Aviv and northern counties. Israel is reporting that since Monday afternoon, over 200 rockets have been fired at the country, in addition to over 50 that were shot down by drones before impact.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has reached out to the UN & US to condemn the Palestinian action, while some newspapers are reporting that Palestinian President Abbas has reached out to the Egyptian President to moderate discussions for a cease fire. 

The situation arose from three Israeli teens being kidnapped and murdered last week - which Israel blames Hamas for, and the subsequent murder of a Palestinian teen, which Hamas claims was retaliatory action by the Israelis.

As we've seen a thousand times before - violence escalation in the Middle East almost always causes fear based price increases. Luckily, we saw no such movement today, as the market continued decline. Markets aside, hopefully the situation comes to some sort of resolution soon - preferably a long standing agreement that will stop the unecessary violence in the area.  

 

 

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Topics: RBOB tumbles, Libya, Iraq, ISIS, Hamas, Israel

Iraqi Turmoil Rocks the NYMEX

Posted by Kelly Burke on Jun 12, 2014 3:57:00 PM

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(Image credit: US EIA via Bloomberg Visual Data - Bloomberg Businessweek 6-12-14)

Both Brent and WTI shot up 2% today on last nights news that ISIS insurgents in Iraq captured Tikrit and Baiji, and were continuing their march towards Bahgdad.If you were watching the screen, you also saw ULSD shoot up .085 to 2.9893 and RBOB hit 3.0837, up .0829 on the day in reaction. 

Iraqi production levels have been stable around 3 million barrels per day, making Iraq OPECs second largest producer (behind Saudi Arabia) - so the supply concerns we're seeing push prices up at this intensity level are not unfounded. 

Essentially all of Iraq's oil production comes from the southern, Shia portion of the country by Basra, (see map from Bloomberg above)  where militant influence is essentially non existant (at least in comparison) - so some speculate that even should the Baiji refinery or additional cities fall, actual supply is unlikely to be affected as the area is well guarded and safe. However, it pays to keep in mind that no one saw Mozul or Tikrit being as vulnerable as they apparently were - the invasion of Mozul saw over 500,000 people flee the city in 12 hours, including basically the entire coalition of American-trained Iraqi security forces because of the level of violence and choas that erupted. It's less likely that would happen further south, given the relatively small insurgent force and the steeper odds they would face in terms of fighting back - but its certainly not an entirely unreasonable fear. 

The Obama administration has stated they are "considering all options" - air strikes, drones, etc but have not made a decision at this time. It would seem unlikely that an attempt to garner public support for re-entrance to Iraq would be an easy (or possible) task, all things considered. Ironically, the air strikes on Syria that  the administration faced such backlash for last year were directed at stopping the violence in the area that involved ISIS - the same group now surging in Iraq. Not a good sign for approval for Iraqi strikes. Thus far neither the UN or US has said they will step in to aid the Iraqi government - a fact that it certainly not easing concerns in the market, one would think.

In the grand scheme, considering price volatility and levels as a whole, we're fortunate that some areas (like the US) have seen production booms that have offset some of the drop offs from OPEC nations (mainly Libya) as its helped keep prices overall more stable - the jump in 2012 for example would probably have shot way past a 2% spike. If supply gets disrupted in Iraq though, given its the second largest OPEC producer, that may cease to be the case, which is probably the more far reaching concern pushing prices than isolated fighting would on its own. 

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Topics: Brent Crude, RBOB, OPEC, WTI Crude, Iraq

BREAKING - Iraq Escalates - Militants Seize Tikrit, Target Baiji Oil Refinery

Posted by Kelly Burke on Jun 11, 2014 3:05:34 PM

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(Image credit: Wikimedia Commons 18:57 June 11 2014)

CNN is reporting that ISIS (the Al Qaeda breakoff group that seized Mozul, Iraq yesterday) has gained "nearly complete control of the Northern city of Tikrit" - Parts of the town of Baiji have reportedly been seized as well - this is the site of the largest oil refinery in Iraw. At the moment the Baiji Oil Refinery is reportedly still under Iraqi military control but seizure of the town raises both international relations issues and supply concerns. If militants seize the refinery expect to see chaos in the markets.

You can follow the story in depth  on Reuters here: http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/06/11/us-iraq-security-idUSKBN0EM11U20140611 

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Topics: Brent Crude, Baiji Refinery, Iraq, ISIS

OPEC, Iraq, Inventories & Political Upsets Rattle Wall Street & Commodity Prices

Posted by Kelly Burke on Jun 11, 2014 2:41:06 PM

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First the usual news - US Crude Supplies once again dropped (to 386.9 million) and more importantly perhaps, Cushing levels dropped again as well. Cushing stocks are down 49% since the Keystone's lower leg started moving its supply to Gulf Coast Refineries. WTI has been climbing steadily the past couple days, and some analysts are predicting WTI hits $105 soon. (Hopefully not!) We also saw gasoline and ULSD up between 0.6-0.9% throughout the day with the intraday high for gasoline hitting 3.0021 and ULSD's intraday high hitting 2.9027.

Brent was up as well on production announcements from OPEC, and an Al Qaeda affiliated group's seizure of the city of Mozul in Iraq. OPEC kept their production target the same, despite the growing fighting. The obvious concern with Iraq is that increased fighting will further disrupt supply. Currently, all exports from the country (a little over 3 million barrels per day) have to go by tanker through the Persian Gulf - the main pipeline that runs from Kirkuk to Turkey has been closed since March. The capture of Mozul and the uptick in violence in the area has caused repairs to the pipeline to be suspended completely at this point. Further supply disruptions are basically a 50-50 proposition at this point, which is making the European markets understandably nervous, and pushing Brent prices up. 

In Virginia, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor got blindsided by his Tea Party primary challenger in an upset that literally no one saw coming. Bloomberg News noted today that there is some serious concern among Wall Streeters, as Cantor was generally seen as an ally for them in the Republican party - supporting TARP and the Export-Import Bank, etc. Wall Street appears to be concerned about potential gridlock in Washington going forward if this primary is an indication of how November may shape up, especially given the debt ceiling issue looms large again in March. (Incidentally, gridlock in Washington is probably good news for the rest of us!) At any rate, between the political upset, and the World Bank revising growth expectations down (specifically for the US) stocks drew back, with utility, industrial and financial stocks the most impacted. 

 

 

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Topics: Brent Crude, Brent vs WTI, World Bank, Iraq, Eric Cantor, Wall Street

Sino-Russian Gas Deal, Ukrainian Post Election Violence, and Contracting US GDP Numbers - Oh My!

Posted by Kelly Burke on May 30, 2014 2:14:20 PM

 

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(image credit: Wikimedia Commons)

This week the market once again bounced around on conflicting data - likely to do with inventory numbers versus economic growth (actually a lack thereof), demand projections, Ukranian violence, and a whopper of a Nat Gas deal between Russia and China.  So much for a nice quiet 4 day week, hmm?

Internationally, Ukraine saw an explosion of fighting and casulties above and beyond what we have seen thus far in the wake of the Presidential election (which went to Petro Poroshenko, former foreign minister). Poroshenko reportedly stated he would deal with the rebel forces in "hours not months" and vowed Ukraine would refuse to aknowlege Russia's annexation of Crimea. Thursday the 29th saw helicopters shot down, killing 12 Ukrainian soldiers, and over 100 people killed in a second airport assault. Like we've talked about, bad news for Ukraine is bad news for Brent generally, and Thursday was no exception, it shot up over 35 cents on the ICE - but dropped back down today - it looks like it will settle the month out up 1.3% but down around 1% for this week. 

Russia and China signed a $400 Billion (with a B!) 30 year gas supply contract this past week as well. The Moscow newspapers claim the deal is not just about Ukraine (although they admit its a tipping point). Merryl Lynch's analysis is that the deal is a good move politically, but may not be the best business deal going. With the EU market shakier for Russia's Gazprom over Ukraine, and the EU also looking into alternate supply options/relaxing regulations, it may well prove to be a good deal in the long run business wise as well, though. The deal was also somewhat inevitable, given the Chinese demand levels and proximity. It also takes the wind out of Canada's LNG-exportation-to-Asia sails to some degree, or at least gets Russia ten steps ahead in the Asian markets. An unintended consquence for the EU though is that now they are under pressure to actually diversify supply, not just threaten to. Be careful what you wish for, right?

On our side of the pond, the news was more peaceful but not much more positive. The Bureau of Economic Analysis released its revised data on the US GDP for the first quarter of 2014. If you recall from our discussion last week, most people were not thrilled to hear the original number of GDP growth at 0.1% for Q1 - and now, the revised numbers actually show US GDP at -1.0%. Personal income and personal spending levels both barely increased at all (0.3 and 0.2%, respectively; and home sales fell 60% short of estimates. On the other hand, both the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq 100 hit all time highs. Go figure.

US Crude inventories were up again - but down again at Cushing, which should have supported (in theory) the current WTI pricing. Thursday saw prices up on the inventory news as traders zeroed in on Cushing levels, versus the overall supply increase. Distillate stocks were down and Gasoline supplies fell by 1.8 million barrels, despite expectations that we would see builds in the 200K barrel increase. This pushed gasoline up during trading yesterday, specifically on July trading, although at the close it crept down to only a 77 point gain. ULSD ended up closing down over a penny (-.0116), and both RBOB and ULSD are down today on demand expectations based on the horrendous GDP revised numbers published this week (more on that later). This number has an across the board impact because the US is the number one consumer of petroleum products, and a slow economy indicates lower demand and therefore lower prices. 

Essentially, it appears that because there are so many different factors at play domestically and abroad, they're sort of cancelling each other out (at least most days) and keeping pricing within the range we've been seeing for a while now. This will probably continue until either the US economy rebounds, the Ukrainian crisis abates, or some other wrench gets thrown into the mix. Stay tuned!

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Topics: CRUDE, RBOB, russia, ukraine,, EIA Inventories, Sino-Russian Gas Deal, Gazprom, Russian Chinese Gas Deal, US GDP

Libya, Labor Participation, & GDP Woes Keep NYMEX Positive Despite Projected Inventory Builds

Posted by Kelly Burke on May 20, 2014 2:26:19 PM

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Analysts expect that the EIA report due out tommorow will show US Crude stocks hitting a new record high. So why isn't the market coming down?

For one, levels at Cushing (the NYMEX physical delivery point) have hit multiyear lows since the pipeline to the Gulf came online in January, which has an impact seperate from overall crude levels. WSJ cites some analysts who think Cushing could hit minimum operational levels, and thats keeping some skepticism in the market and supporting the price.

Secondly, international concerns are always a factor, and Europe is dealing with more than a few energy related headaches this week. Brent Crude is hanging in there at over $109, which is largely being blamed on the ongoing issues with Libya. Libyan production has been capped well below 2013 levels, and major oilfields remain closed down despite government promises they would be up and running by now.  Perhaps more of a dire sign for the area though -  France's major oil player in Libya, Total, has cut presence in the country down severely, and Algeria's Sonatrach has evacuuated their employees - both companies did so on security and safety concerns. Not good news for hopes that war torn Libya would be stepping back in as a major supply player anytime soon. 

Russia and Ukraine are still essentially in a standoff as well, with the usual reports of progress being made but none seeming to really materialize. 

On another note, Domestically, like we talked about before, the economic recovery picture is not looking particularly sunny. There is a lot of heated discussion about the "real" jobless numbers and the labor participation rate. At the start of the summer job season, the amount of people under 25 in the work force dropped almost half a million, and the unemployment rate for 16-19 year olds hit the second lowest number ever.  Additionally, the GDP is moving at a crawl, the Bureau of Economic Analysis estimated GDP grew 0.1% for Q1 of 2014 - not a great number in and of itself, but especially painful given that projections put it at a full 1%. Not very confidence inspiring, which tends to lend itself to higher commodities pricing (just ask a gold nut). 

 

 

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Topics: Brent Crude, Libya, CRUDE, russia, EIA Inventories

Commodities and Stocks See-Saw on Sanctions, EIA Numbers, Unemployment, and Tech Dissapointments

Posted by Kelly Burke on May 9, 2014 1:18:03 PM


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Wednesday's EIA report showed that the API projected Crude drops come to fruition, falling 1.78 million barrels. As we all saw this pushed up Crude & ULSD prices on the day, with ULSD closing up .0398 to 2.9275, and Crude up to 100.81, once again hanging by the new (unfortunately) benchmark of $100 we've all been hoping to drop from for quite some time now. 

Brent ticked upwards this week as well on EU discussion of stricter sanctions on Russia. Putin had announced earlier this week that Russian troops had withdrawn from the border, but no such withdrawal happened according to everyone else in the area, so more sanctions are back on the table it appears. Economic sanctions on the world's second largest energy exporter are, unsurprisingly, not great for downward price pressure. 

In contrast to Crude - US Natural Gas inventory was up 94 bcf and prices dipped slightly. That sounds like good news after the supply crunch (not to mention spiking prices) of this past winter, and it is, but bear in mind prices are likely to remain relatively high for nat gas in the foreseeable future. Why? Because even with a build of 94 bcf, supplies are close to 45% lower than they were just a year ago today and the only demand control as supply limps back up is the price level, unfortunately. 

In the broader stock market, the S&P is poised for a weekly loss, largely due to drops in energy & utility shares. The DIJA dropped 4.1 percent in 5 days over tech stock dissapointments (ahem, Twitter & Groupon), and the Nasdaq dropped almost 2% as well. Last week stocks were up for the week minus a Friday drop off, which was a little unforseen because the weekly jobs report was strong (at least on the headline level).

April's Job numbers showed unemployment dropped to 6.3%, the lowest in 5 years. However, the margin of error for revision is pretty large on these reports of late, so there may be some hesitancy in the market until the "real" numbers materialize. Additionally, the work force participation rate dropped to 62.8%, tying the all time worst record from 1978 (also October and December of 2013).

There's been a lot of contradictory indicators as of late from different segments -  real estate, manufacturing, labor participation, and Jobless claim numbers, for example, that make it difficult to get a good overall picture of the economy. As they say, the truth likely lies somewhere in the middle, but who knows where that is.   

 

 

 

 

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Topics: Brent Crude, Inventory report, Jobless numbers, Crude draws, russia, ukraine,

WTI Drops Big (Again) on Expected Builds

Posted by Kelly Burke on Apr 22, 2014 2:53:08 PM

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Last week as we discussed, the EIA reports for the prior week (ending April 11) saw inventory builds in US Crude supplies while gasoline inventories drew down. Crude Inventories actually hit their highest level since June 2013 and production hit its highest level since 1988. 

Platt's is estimating that this Wednesdays EIA report (on the week ending April 18th) will show inventory builds of  up to10 million gallons. As a result of the anticipated build, WTI has dropped more than we've seen in the previous 3 months. Brent Crude, the European benchmark, wasn't quite so lucky.

Compared to WTI's over 2% drop, Brent was down less than one percent on continued Ukrainian tensions (stop me if you've heard this one before...) and on the heels of Vice President Biden's speech this morning in Kiev, in which he expressed US support for Ukraine. The sentiment, though true, wasn't very helpful for the already fragile (read: falling apart) agreements with Russia to reduce friction in the area, especially coming one day after Secretary Kerry demanded that Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov control seperatist activity in Ukraine, with the Russians firing back that the US should intercede in to control "Ukrainian militia activity" in the region and today insisting that any agreements reached in Geneva "have nothing to do with us".  

The global headache that is Ukrainian/Russian/US relations at the moment would likely have resulted in a lot of market volatility and price spikes, but consistently increasing inventory levels have seemingly kept it at bay, particularly domestically. Hopefully that trend continues, and we start to see some progress towards resolution in Eastern Europe.

 

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Topics: EIA, Brent Crude, Brent vs WTI, Inventory report, russia, ukraine,, WTI Crude

Markets Up on Ukraine Tensions, Inventory Projections, and Chinese Economic Data

Posted by Kelly Burke on Apr 16, 2014 11:14:35 AM

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(Image Credit - Russavia [CC-BY-SA-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons)

Deja Vu - global oil prices are again creeping higher on increasing friction on the Ukraine-Russia standoff, projected inventory numbers, and Chinese economic numbers suggesting slower growth than anticipated. Didn't we just go through this two weeks ago??

Brent CRUDE hit over $110 Tuesday for the first time since March 4th on increasing concern over long term energy supply impacts of the mounting Ukrainian situation, and concerns of potential Western (US) interventions. Tuesday saw Ukranian troops clash with Russians at an occupied airport in Kramatorsk, about 100 miles from the Russian border - the first armed clash thus far in the ongoing power struggle. Tuesday also saw Ukranian troops headed toward the Russian border, counter to the tens of thousands of Russian troops reportedly stationed there. Concerns over potential Western response pushed stock markets lower, including the German DAX and Russian MICEX and pushed Brent and WTI prices up, with Brent hitting $110 as we mentioned, and WTI gaining to as much as 104.99 ahead of Inventory numbers due out later today. 

The primary cited reason for the jumps is the escalations in the Ukraine, but Chinese Economic data is also looking weaker than projected, with economic expansion numbers clocking in at the lowest we've seen in 6 quarters and falling short of the governments stated target of 7.5% growth. On the bright side, the Hariga port in Libya loaded for the first time in July when it was seized and shut down by rebels. 

Domestically, US inventories on gas are projected to show draws of up to 1.75 mb in Bloomberg estimates, while CRUDE is expected to show builds, and distillates are projected to be largely stable. It will be interesting to see how pricing plays out if the EIA report pulls the rug out from under the analysts like it did the last week of March.

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Topics: weekly inventory numbers, Chinese Industrial Output, russia, ukraine,

    Energy Market Updates

    The information contained in this report has been taken from trade and statistical services and sources believed to be reliable. Dennis K. Burke, Inc. makes no representations or warranties with respect to the content of such news, including, without limitation, its accuracy and completeness. This bulletin is provided for informational purposes only, and is not intended as a recommendation to buy or sell commodities.

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