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

Dramatic Inventory Drawdowns Pump Up Prices

Posted by Kelly Burke on Sep 8, 2016 5:02:38 PM

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Crude jumped on today’s inventory report after jumping up on the overnights last night as well. Post close yesterday, the API numbers were indicating significant draws and the EIA release backed that projection up.
The EIA report this morning indicated that Crude inventories dropped by 14.5 million barrels for last week, which is the biggest drop we’ve seen this millennium (since 1999).
Analysts are partly blaming the effects of Hermine on the Gulf Coast delaying production and explaining the draw down in stocks.  
Gasoline stocks also dropped, by 4.5 million barrels, and also unexpectedly.
Today closed out up across the board, with diesel up .0557 to $1.4822, Gas up .0701 to $1.4165 and Crude closing out at $47.62. (significantly up from yesterday’s Crude settle of $45.50)
An interesting aside on gasoline’s jump today was that the lowest Labor Day retail gasoline prices in 12 years were seen this past weekend, and if you jump online there are literally dozens of articles projecting that the post summer driving season price levels for gasoline will drop below $2 per gallon. It’s more likely than not that these articles are correct versus today’s inventory and price rebound. Nothing has changed fundamentally with either Crude or gasoline in terms of long term supply and demand outlooks (despite some new rumblings about Russia and Saudi Arabia, as usual).

Stay tuned!

 

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Topics: CRUDE, EIA Inventories

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

BREXIT Surprise Sends Financial, Oil Markets Reeling

Posted by Kelly Burke on Jun 24, 2016 4:53:56 PM

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Yesterday traders across the globe were all but certain that Britain would never vote to leave the EU. As a result we saw confidence in the markets, including oil.

100% of those traders were apparently incorrect. 

Today we saw Japan shut down trading, the pound lose over 15%, oil markets tumble and Wall Street get hammered. The Dow closed down 600 points today, the worst day since 2011 - all of this in the wake of Britain indeed voting to leave the European Union. 

On the commodities side, while gold and the dollar went up, WTI slipped 4.9% (over $2/bbl)  to close out at $47.64. Gasoline tumbled $.0785 to $1.5250, and ULSD dropped $.0653 to $1.4553.

So what now?

Many analysts think that oil prices will rebalance and stabilize given the UK is essentially irrelevant to global oil demand, and therefore pricing.

Others caution however that this move by Britain may signal rough waters ahead for the European Union and its economic growth - and therefore oil demand, which could increase supply versus demand. 

With the British pound's slip comes a necessarily strengthening dollar, which would argue aginst a precipitous slide in oil prices, given the backdrop that production and demand issues aren't, at least in the near term, greatly impacted by the Brexit vote. (Backdrop being U.S. Rig counts are still by and large declining with the exception of a few pop ups, the new Saudi Oil minister is still seen by many as a step forward in market stability, etc etc...). However, its also likely the dollar is extra overpriced today simply because of its strength relative to the pound, which ought to also rebalance - at least in theory.

After one hell of a suprise Friday - Next week should be an interesting one on the markets, to say the least. 

Enjoy the weekend, everyone. If you need us, give us a shout. 

 

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Topics: European Economy, CRUDE, Dollar Strengthens, Brexit

Crude Breaks $51 on Nigerian Explosions, US Inventories

Posted by Kelly Burke on Jun 8, 2016 3:47:13 PM

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Crude closed out at $51.23 this afternoon, the highest it’s been since July 2015, up from yesterday and holding firm over the $50 benchmark.  

Today’s climb can be pinned on the EIA’s inventory report, which again showed draws in Crude but also on supply disruptions from ongoing rebellion in Nigeria.

In Nigeria, the Delta Avenger group has continued militant action by not simply rejecting proposed settlement talks with the Nigerian government, but blowing up a refinery. The group has brought Nigeria’s oil production and export to 20 year lows according to CNBC – something the struggling and vastly oil-export-dependent country can ill afford, especially given the global price slide of the past two years.

Interestingly, despite the stockpile draws in today’s EIA report, it appears that US domestic Crude production actually edged up by 10,000bpd – this contrasts rather sharply with the beginning of the month where we saw US production languishing at its lowest levels since 2014.

Distillates and gasoline both built this past week, despite projected draws. They closed up alongside Crude – both edging over 2 cents – gas at .0327 and diesel up .0290. Gasoline’s build was a shocker considering “driving season” is officially in gear, but none the less today’s market moves did not reflect the builds… yet.

Last week, the May jobs report roiled markets temporarily after it came in abysmally low – the lowest since 2010. However, things settled out relatively quickly since the report all but guaranteed a rate hike would not be pushed through by the Fed yet, which was good news for Wall Street and also resulted in the 5 year low on the dollar we saw, as built in anticipation of a hike was shed.

The fact is with range bound jumps on inventory, economic data, world events, we may be seeing evidence that the market is hitting a point of stability. How long that lasts is anyone’s guess however. As they say “the trend is your friend” and we’ve been trending upward – but it’s important to remember the big picture and outstanding potential factors. For example, last month’s OPEC meeting in Vienna did literally ZERO in terms of addressing the supply glut. We also still have an Iran hell bent on juicing exports to the max. However, we also have a Venezuela on the verge of collapse, refinery sabotage in Nigeria, and a Chinese economy that may be covertly cooling down a lot quicker than they’ll admit.

Stay tuned!

 

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Topics: CRUDE, EIA Inventories, $50 benchmark

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

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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

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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

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