NYMEX flirts with Double Digit Increases on Vaccine Approval, Weaker Dollar

Posted by Kelly Burke on Aug 23, 2021 1:33:20 PM

Oil prices reversed their 7 day losing streak this morning. Last week WTI shed 9% to hit multi-month lows, and this morning it rebounded up to 5% on intraday trading.

Refined products are up huge with both products flirting with double digit increases. At time of writing (1:30pm), refined products were up substantially, with ULSD up $.0997 Sept, $.1001 OCT and Gasoline up $.0937 SEPT, $.0926 OCT. Additionally, WTI is up over the $65/bbl benchmark at $65.68 (+3.54).

The causes are being cited as both a weaker dollar (it's down from highs on Friday) and FDA full approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine for everyone aged 16 and over (versus the Emergency Use Approval it has had since December). There is some hope that full FDA approval will quell some skepticism and lead to higher overall vaccination rates among eligible people. 

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One of the major factors that has been weighing on commodities (as discussed) has been the looming threat of shut downs and travel restrictions that would continue to effect demand in the event that COVID has a resurgence from the delta variant. 

It would seem, however, that approval of the vaccine may not be a valid reason to fully discard those demand concerns in the longer term. After all, we are seeing some restrictions being placed in China and other countries regarding travel. Additionally, supply levels are high, and Baker Hughes indicated a higher domestic rig count last week which indicates further upticks in production (despite demand lowering). 

On the other hand, full approval may signal to markets that shut downs will not be an inevitability and thus the demand hiccups we are seeing will be shorter term than has been priced in so far. 

As usual, we will have to wait and see.  

Stay Tuned! 

 

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Topics: WTI Crude, covid-19, vaccine

Uptick in COVID Cases & Strengthening Dollar Push Prices Down

Posted by Kelly Burke on Aug 19, 2021 2:59:21 PM

Ramped up COVID cases and a stronger dollar pushed oil prices down today - intraday prices had Crude down to 3 month lows (off 4%) . Refined products tanked as well, lunchtime saw ULSD off almost 7 cents (.0674) and RBOB off .0868 on front month trading. 

At the close, the losses pared somewhat with ULSD settling at 1.9690 (-.0522) and RBOB at 2.0815 (-.0662) for September contract. (ULSD 1.9714 and RBOB 1.9525 for OCT). WTI Crude settled out at 63.69/bbl.

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As discussed previously, the uptick in COVID cases has been making traders (and the rest of us!) nervous, particularly as it relates to economic growth and demand slippage.  Goldman Sachs has revised projections for third quarter GDP down in anticipation of Delta variant induced economic slowing. 

In addition, although demand outlooks are lower, it looks extremely unlikely that OPEC+ will walk back their recent production increases, as despite prices slipping, they are still at a profitable level for member nations (at least for the time being). 

The paring of losses we saw on the screen as the afternoon wore on were largely the result of the US Dollar strengthening. Somewhat ironically, the dollar is strengthening largely because of indications from the Fed that stimulus measures put in place to mitigate COVID impacts will be phasing out over the coming year. 

So on one side, the dollar is stronger on phasing out COVID measures and on the other, demand outlook is weaker on the back of rising COVID cases, and both of those factors are dropping prices. Riddle me that. 

The other wildcard in play generally with the markets is the ongoing situation in Afghanistan, where the Taliban have (re)seized control of the nation. It is unclear for the moment what the longer term impacts will be both on the region and internationally. That is true both in terms of the markets and how the international handling of the humanitarian crisis unfolding develops . We will keep an eye on that developing situation. 

Stay tuned!

 

 

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Topics: OPEC, covid-19, Afghanistan

High Outputs, High Case Numbers, and Low Economic Growth Crush Refined Product Prices

Posted by Kelly Burke on Aug 2, 2021 4:27:14 PM

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Weak economic data from the United States & China, combined with higher OPEC outputs and rising COVID cases have again raised concerns about oversupply and weakening demand and pushed markets into sell off territory.

Today saw Crude drop 4% to 71.26/bbl, and refined products followed suit, with front month trading closing down .0598 on ULSD to 2.1358 and down an even .06 on RBOB to 2.2747. 

So what's going on?

China reported its slowest factory activity growth in almost a year and a half, which has raised concerns about the strength of the global recovery, particularly as China, in addition to having the world's second largest economy, has had the most robust recovery of the Asian region thus far. In the US, manufacturing activity slowed for the second month as well - so we are two for two on the world's largest economies showing signs of weakness and slowing recovery. 

Globally, we are also seeing an increase in the number of COVID cases reported as a result of the delta variant. Despite reassurances from Fauci and the government at large that the United States will not be looking at a second round of lockdowns because vaccination rates should be sufficient to avoid them,  the resurgence of mask mandates and other protocols in some areas has led to some skepticism that economic recovery and therefore demand growth will continue. 

At the same time these concerns mount on the demand side, on the supply side, the output from OPEC+ countries for July hit its highest level since the beginning of the Pandemic (April 2020).  The OPEC+ member nations had begun a reversal on previously agreed to output cuts largely based on oil price recovery and a sunny outlook on demand.

It's possible, but unlikely, that the strategy will be reversed again even as we see the demand outlook be flipped on its head. 

So once again, the standing headline conclusion is "we have to wait and see" on both how COVID shakes out, and what OPEC+ may do. 2020 Deja Vu all over again!

Stay Tuned! 

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Topics: OPEC, china, covid-19

EIA Draws Slow COVID Resurgence Induced Sell Offs

Posted by Kelly Burke on Jul 28, 2021 3:12:00 PM

shutterstock_1707677488EIA Inventory report showed much larger draws across the board on all products than anticipated. By the official count, Crude drew down 4.1mmb (2.9 expected), distillates 3.1mmb (435K expected) and gasoline 2.25mmb (916K expected). 

  The draws indicate a continuing tightness on the supply side in     the face of massive demand recovery as economies by and large get back to work as "normal". However, the past few weeks we've seen drops consistently on heightening concern about COVID resurgence and the spread of the Delta variant. 

Concern lingers as countries report a rise in cases and some have reintroduced some lockdown measures, or revised guidelines (including new guidance by the CDC on masks in the US). The growing fear is that extension of lockdown measures, or a return to lockdowns in a given sector could once again plummet demand and send markets reeling.  . 

On the other hand, global market supply is still extremely tight, even with additional produced gallons by OPEC+ member countries coming online. 

So, we essentially are in a weird spot where demand alone is the critical piece of whether the market will rally or slide - global supply is low which would support price increases, but if China does in fact crack down on imports of Crude as they appear to be doing, and COVID continues to tick up globally again the demand drop could be such that we don't see a rally materialize.

It's really anyone's guess as to how the world responds to continuing COVID fears should the cases continue to rise. 

Stay Tuned!  

 

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Topics: OPEC, china, covid-19

Prices Rally as EIA Reports Say Lower Inventory, Higher Demand

Posted by Kelly Burke on Apr 14, 2021 1:17:23 PM

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By noon trading today Crude was up almost 5%, and on the refined products side, ULSD was up 7 cents and Gas up almost 6 (+.0586) and the market looked like we could see the highest close since mid-March. 

So what's going on?

EIA Reports! The EIA demand outlook was increased signaling the agency sees a continuing growth in demand for petroleum products going forward. On top of that, the EIA Inventory reports this morning showed a draw of 5.9mmb on Crude for the week ending 4/9. This is actually pretty close to the number analysts had predicted on Crude - however, analysts had predicted builds on gasoline of 5.65mmb, and that's what kept prices in range Tuesday. The actual reporting from the EIA showed a build of only 300K, obviously a far cry from the priced-in 5.65mmb, and that took the brakes off of holding prices back.

So essentially, the EIA is predicting more demand and reporting dropped inventories at the same time, and that's pushing prices north. 

Other bullish factors behind prices moving up include substantial growth in Chinese oil usage (imports increased a reported 21% last month) and continuing positive economic indicators in US.

On the other side of the equation however, we are seeing a continually slow vaccine rollout (particularly in Europe) while we simultaneously see explosions in cases in some areas (ie Brazil). Yesterday, we also saw an announcement that the United States is "pausing" administration of the Johnson & Johnson one-shot vaccine for COVID-19 after reports of potentially fatal blood clots in a small number of recipients. The pause reportedly will be for "weeks or even days not months" according to officials, but the major concern is a PR one, that the pause will cause hesitation in getting vaccinated among those who have not yet, which could hypothetically impact both case numbers, and how quickly the country is able to be fully back open for business. 

So vaccination concerns and case numbers are basically the black rain clouds over a potentially stronger, longer rally on prices, and it's anyone's guess which side of the equation wins out over the next few weeks. 

Stay tuned!

 

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Topics: EIA Inventories, economic data, covid-19

OPEC+ Production Reversal signals Economic Optimism, Props Prices

Posted by Kelly Burke on Apr 2, 2021 1:44:51 PM

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Last month, the OPEC+ decision to stay the course on previously announced production cuts pushed the market up. Yesterday, the OPEC+ decision to reverse course and bring more supply online over the next 3 months (May, June, July) resulted in....surprise! The market going up! 

The announcement on the OPEC+ production level change came initially around noon - normally we would see an immediate drop on the screens in the event of a production increase announcement.

So why not yesterday?

It seems the sentiment is that the sudden reversal is a strong vote of confidence for global economic recovery and a resulting surge in demand, and that confidence, along with some hopeful signs of demand upticks (resuming air travel, refinery utilization increases, import resurgence) is supporting higher price levels. 

This morning, the first jobs report published under new Labor Secretary (Boston's own!) Marty Walsh showed a surprising uptick in jobs. Non farm payrolls shot up 916,000 jobs (analysts had predicted 675K), and the unemployment rate dropped to 6% (last April the unemployment rate was 14.7%).

The markets were closed today in observance of Good Friday so we were not able to see the reports full impact, outside of some upticks in bonds, but it would seem to support the optimistic stance taken by OPEC+ regarding economic recovery. Major economic indicators are still up in the air however, and while countries are making progress with vaccinations and easing of restrictions, we are certainly not "past" COVID as of yet, so optimism should likely be tempered with some caution. 

In terms of the numbers, yesterday Crude closed out at $61.45/bbl - surprisingly tight to the close on the last day of trading in February despite March's volatility (last day of Feb trading Crude settled $61.50). April 1 close for ULSD on front month trading was $1.8316 (+.0618) and gasoline was $2.0223 (+.0626). 

Stay Tuned! 

 

 

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Topics: OPEC, economic data, Jobs Report, covid-19

Despite Friday Drops, Gains for the Week on NYMEX

Posted by Kelly Burke on Jan 15, 2021 4:42:27 PM

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Despite today's across the board drops on refined prices, (-.0262 UL & -.0255 RBOB) this week saw oil prices overall continue to tick upward. 

What's pushing prices up? A weaker dollar, and stronger confidence in economic rebound as the vaccine rollouts continue. At play as well is new agreement on supply curbs by Saudi Arabia in tandem with larger than expected draws in US inventory levels. 

Wednesday prices came close to hitting 1-year highs at the close, briefly going over in intraday trading for Brent Crude. So far, halfway through January, Crude prices are up ~9% or so as confidence builds in eventual recovery from the COVID induced shut downs and resulting dips in demand that we saw push WTI into negative territory about 10 months ago. 

In terms of the supply side, EIA reports indicated that US Crude inventories dropped a little over half a million barrels for the prior week, with gasoline dropping 1.1mmb & distillates dropping 2.3mmb - double what some analysts had projected. More broadly, Saudi Arabia has pledged to cut its output by 1mmb/day which will drop overall production levels, even though Russia will actually have allowance to produce slightly higher levels than before. Sort of an odd twist to the usual OPEC+ setup - you can read more about the specifics on the deal here in the New York Times: Saudi Arabia Will Cut Its Own Production, Allowing Russia's to Grow 

On the demand side of the equation, talks regarding further stimulus under the Biden Administration, as well as continued vaccine rollout seems to have traders (and everyone else) hopeful about eventual demand recovery as the economy hopefully strengthens and rebounds once immunity levels hit threshold. 

We did however see drops today to close the week out across the board. Front month ULSD & RBOB settled at 1.5929 & 1.5284 respectively, with Crude at 52.36/bbl. March numbers closed out with ULSD off .0263 to 1.5942, and gasoline dropped .0261 to 1.577. 

Who knows what happens next. Enjoy your weekend & stay tuned! 

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Topics: saudi arabia, covid-19, Biden Administration

New COVID Strain Stops the Spread of Price Rally

Posted by Kelly Burke on Dec 22, 2020 3:38:01 PM

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Last week's market pushed up on hopes of progress against COVID with vaccine rollouts and encouraging signs of demand growth on fuels. This week however, those hopes were dashed as talk turned to a variant strain of COVID found in the UK that has caused surging infections, and prompted the "Christmas Lockdowns" in other European nations to become increasingly severe. This has all but wiped out any hope of demand stabilizing in the near term.

Sunday France closed it's border to the UK, stranding truckers and travelers in the process. This afternoon they are allowing drivers who test negative to cross, if they have an essential purpose for travel. No travelers will be permitted without a reason for travel and negative test within 72 hours going forward, according to current reports. Overall, more than 50 countries have banned travel to & from the UK in the wake of the new strain's discovery, in an attempt to keep it from spreading. 

Even the passage of the second stimulus in the US that's been hanging over the market for what seems like eons didn't do much but slow today's declines as compared to yesterday's losses. 

Yesterday we saw both Brent & WTI shed over 2%, where we saw increases of 1.5% on both just Friday (Friday saw the highest front month settle on both flavors since late February). News moves fast.

Yesterdays close on WTI was $47.74, and $47.02 today. In terms of refined products, ULSD shed .0158 to $1.4616 for front month & -.0152 to $1.4630 for February trading. Gasoline followed suit, dropping -.0209 to $1.3395 Jan, -.0193 to $1.3355 Feb. 

It remains to be seen how things shake out when the second stimulus takes actual effect, but more importantly it remains to be seen what the implications of the new COVID strain will be. If it's contained, or vaccines are effective in slowing or preventing its spread, it may end up just a blip on the radar. If not.. well, we can only hope for the best. 

Stay safe and stay tuned. Hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday season, despite how different it may look this year. 

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Topics: European Economy, Stimulus, covid-19

NYMEX Ends the Week on a Calm Note

Posted by Kelly Burke on Dec 11, 2020 4:12:32 PM

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Markets backed off slightly today across the board. At the close, we saw front month ULSD settle up .0012 to 1.4369 (1.4416 +.0006 for Feb), RBOB dropped .0089 to 1.3077 (-.0087 to 1.3137 for Feb) and WTI closed out at 46.57

Yesterday was another story - markets shot up and we saw Brent Crude hit & settle at $50 for the first time since March. Most upward trajectory in the markets lately has been Vaccine news related, as we've discussed previously. This past week, FDA emergency approvals for the Pfizer vaccine continued the optimism and pushed pricing up. 

Another factor appears to be demand growth globally as compared to last month. Bloomberg is reporting an uptick in road fuel usage in both Europe & Latin America as compared to November, although use is still down a staggering 30% from pre pandemic levels, according to their reports. (Great article - you can read it here: Global Oil Demand is Rebounding Again )

While there is some optimism then with regard to Europe & Latin America in terms of demand growth, the continuing surge of COVID cases in the United States is still a sort of cartoon anvil hanging over the market.

Massachusetts this week rolled back their reopening to a prior phase, California is enacting extremely strict lockdowns for affected zones, and other States are following suit with their own lockdown protocols. Optimism in Europe may be overstated as well, as Germany announced today they were heading into another national lock down. 

Beyond COVID, the counterweight to some demand growth is the new OPEC+ production agreement, under which they will increase production by 500K barrels per day. While not a devastating increase, it's worth remembering that the prior cut in May by 9.7 million barrels per day was revised to only drop 7.7 million 4 months later. So, we shall see if this production increase remains modest, or gets revised upward. 

Stay tuned! Happy Friday, everybody!

 

 

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Topics: OPEC, $50 benchmark, covid-19

Markets Soar on Vaccine News, Presidential Transition

Posted by Kelly Burke on Nov 24, 2020 3:22:10 PM

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Final answers to lingering questions shot markets up today - Oil markets hit an 8 month high and the stock market soared,  with the Dow breaking 30,000 for the first time. Airlines, Cruise Lines, and Energy stocks all pushed up on continuing positive news regarding a COVID-19 vaccination. 

In intraday trading, WTI surged over 4 % to $44.80 (the last time we saw the $45 benchmark hold was in March, prior to both the Saudi/Russian price war and the expanding of COVID into a full blown global pandemic. In other words, its been quite some time. Who can even remember life before lockdowns started?).

Since November 9 (first vaccine announcement) Crude has gained ~15% and Brent is in backwardation, another positive sign. 

ULSD & RBOB both traded up over .05+ the majority of the trading day. At the close, ULSD was up +.0490 to 1.3595 for December & +.0484 to 1.3642 for January. RBOB gained +.0542 for December to 1.2582, and +.0539 for January to 1.2510. Crude closed at $44.91/bbl - juuuuuuust under that $45 benchmark. 

Earlier in the month (November 9) we saw markets jump on the announcement by Pfizer that they had developed a 90% effective vaccine. AstraZeneca and Moderna have also announced success on their iterations of a vaccine, one of which has the potential to solve some of the logistical issues regarding cold storage transport posed by the initial vaccine. Obviously, a vaccine means markets are hopeful that we will see a transition back to "normal" sooner rather than later, and the rally in industries particularly hammered by lockdowns, including air travel and general transportation would seem to bear that out. 

The other factor pushing markets today is the official start of the transition of power to the Biden Administration. Given the legal challenges being raised by the Trump Administration regarding vote counts, there was substantial uncertainty around the transition, and if there's anything the market hates, its looming questions without answers. It seems that the clarity is boosting confidence.

Lest we get overly optimistic however, it's important to note that although vaccine news is good news - none of the vaccines announced have been approved for general use yet. We are also still in a surge of COVID cases right now and there is no timeline on when a large enough contingent of citizens will be vaccinated in order for restrictions to begin easing. Goldmann Sachs & JP Morgan have revised economic expectations due to surging, New York City has closed schools again, and even in Massachusetts we are seeing field hospitals being reopened to handle expected increases in cases. All of this to say while today was great for 401(k)s, it is probably premature to be overly optimistic about the next few weeks to months. 

Despite all the craziness of 2020, we're Thankful to be here still working for our customers. We hope you have an amazing and relaxing (social distant) Thanksgiving. Enjoy the long weekend! 

 

 

 

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Topics: NYMEX, stock market, Trump Administration, covid-19, Biden Administration

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