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

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

Oil Spikes on OPEC+ Agreement

Posted by Kelly Burke on Mar 4, 2021 2:57:31 PM

shutterstock_651733465WTI jumped over 5% late this morning, as news broke that OPEC+ members would be agreeing not to raise production levels in April. According to reports, the current established levels for each of the member countries will be continuing as is through April and May, and the Saudi's are planning to forge ahead with continuing to keep the additional 1 million barrels per day offline as agreed to for February and March.

The news of continued cuts leaking from the (currently still happening) meeting surprised the markets, which is part of why we are seeing such a jump - often the predicted outcomes are "priced in" but today analysts fully expected that the ruling would be to let production cuts expire at the end of March as scheduled, and assumed Saudi Arabia would be ramping up production. We have started to see signals of demand levels returning, which, along with the ongoing price rally, had made analysts comfortable that OPEC would begin to ramp production levels back up. Reports indicate that Saudi Arabia urged caution and pushed for today's cut extensions, with Energy Minister Prince Abduliziz bin Salaman saying "Let us be certain the glimmer we see ahead is not the headlight of an oncoming express train"

Yesterday, prices jumped as well as the weekly EIA data for the US showed that the snowstorms and widespread freezing that impacted states in the Gulf Coast region continued to wreak havoc on refinery utilization. Crude stockpiles ramped up by 21.5 million barrels for the week ending Feb 26. That build is even larger than what we saw last April when the sudden imposition of COVID lockdowns demolished demand across essentially all sectors immediately. Crude built as a result of the lack of refinery capacity still in effect, and the opposite was seen (of course) on refined products. Although draws on refined products were clearly predicted, the EIA report still shocked as it showed draws on gasoline of 13.6 million barrels (about 5 times the anticipated draw) and distillates drew down 9.7 million barrels, versus the 3 million predicted.

In other news today, Houthi rebels in Yemen are claiming responsibility for a missile strike on a Saudi oil facility in Jiddah, in a continuation of infrastructure strikes in the ongoing proxy war. The conflict is definitely something to keep an eye on - as we saw in September 2019, attacks on Aramco infrastructure can rock the markets pretty severely. 

At today's close, WTI settled at $63.83. ULSD +.0603 to $1.8960, Gasoline up .0461 to $1.9979

 

 

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Topics: OPEC, EIA Inventories, saudi arabia

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

Price War! Oil drops 24% on Saudi Reversal & Continued Economic Carnage from Coronavirus

Posted by Kelly Burke on Mar 9, 2020 4:13:04 PM

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Oil markets were tumbling well before the open today, and unfortunately we didn't see that turn around at all through the course of the official trading day.

At the open, we were down -.2076 on ULSD, and -.2362 on gas and it only went downhill from there.

At the close, Crude settled at an incredible $31.13/bbl (down 24%!!), ULSD dropped -.2223 to $1.1629 & RBOB dropped .2521 to $1.1369.

Stock markets took a pounding today as well, dropping precipitously enough for trading to be temporarily halted when the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped over 2,000 points after the open this morning. (Both the S&P and DJIA are down over 6% as of writing)

So what's going on?

In response to Russian refusal on the proposed OPEC production cuts, Saudi Arabia has completely changed course on cuts and announced they will not only be pumping at capacity starting April 1 (upon the expiration of the current cuts) but they are also additionally discounting by a reported 4-8 $ per barrel, with preferential pricing going to the US & Europe.

The move is meant to undercut other producers across the board  - somewhat reminiscent of the strategy employed to attempt to push out U.S. Shale production back in 2014-2016(ish) and retain market share at the expense of other producer nations (refresher/throwback on that here: 2015 - backstory on that strategy impact on Russia back then here as well: 2016 ) 

The thing is though, the math has changed substantially on both the Russian & US fronts in terms of capital on hand to withstand the drop in the case of Russia, and production cost and infrastructure in the case of the United States, so it will be interesting to see who blinks first. It's unlikely to be Russia, they announced they can withstand $25 oil for 2 years. (whether that is true or not remains to be seen)  

The second half of the equation today is that the ongoing Coronavirus outbreak is seriously dampening both global economic expectations, and oil demand. In particular, as US cases rise, concerns rise as well on economic impacts. Fear of the virus becoming a full on global pandemic are also in play now as Italy made the move to quarantine an entire region this weekend in an attempt to contain the spread. 

Basically, falling oil prices and falling demand paired with virus induced low global economic growth is igniting fears of a recession. In particular, the US, who has recently become a major producer and net exporter, could feel major impacts that we are not used to. 

Again, it's anyone's guess if we are seeing the bottom or not yet or how long it will take for the factors involved to reverse course. In the mean time, stay tuned (and wash your hands!)

 

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Topics: OPEC, russia, stock market, saudi arabia, Coronavirus

Oil Tanks 10% on No OPEC Deal & Continued Pandemic Fears

Posted by Kelly Burke on Mar 6, 2020 5:00:46 PM

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Wild day on the markets today! Oil plummeted on news that the production cuts proposed at the OPEC+ meeting in Vienna were rejected by the "plus" contingent of the OPEC+ coalition - namely, Russia.

Current cuts will remain in place through March, but technically there is no agreement for continued production cuts past the 31st, which means its anyone's guess how production will be ramped up among OPEC+ nations (assuming another deal is not hammered out). Proposed cuts were contingent on Russian agreement and well... they said no. 

Upon the news, the market dropped 7% essentially immediately, and continued on down throughout the day, closing down 10%  - with WTI settling at $41.28/bbl (lowest it has been since August 2016!). ULSD dropped .1033 to settle at 1.3852, and RBOB dropped a whopping .1328 to close out at 1.3890.

The timing on this could not be worse, as global economic demand growth has been taking a pounding from the Coronavirus' impact on major economic players, specifically China. There was some indication in late February that the virus was being contained in terms of slowing new cases, but that appears to have been wildly inaccurate - infections have now surpassed 100K, and spread to over 93 countries, according to the CDC. 

The stock market was hit just about as hard as the oil markets today in the ongoing panic, despite positive jobs numbers and the signing of an 8.3 billion dollar epidemic relief package in the US aimed at ramping up efforts to contain and combat the virus, as well as develop a viable vaccine as soon as possible. The bill also includes SBA loan options for industries hit particularly hard by the outbreak (like airlines), which was in part meant to combat some of the economic fallout and panic - but today's stock market numbers would indicate it was not successful in that endeavor. 

All of this to say - it's anyone's guess if we have hit the bottom on pricing yet, and it's likely to be a day-by-day analysis until the pandemic fears subside... at which point global supply (and potential supply cuts) will again become the main driver.

Stay tuned! 

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Topics: OPEC, WTI Crude, stock market, Coronavirus

Markets Up on OPEC+ Hope and Coronavirus Slowdown

Posted by Kelly Burke on Feb 12, 2020 3:18:21 PM

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WTI Crude traded & settled below $50/bbl earlier this week, as prices continued to slide across commodities. Today, however, we saw the trend reversing, with the market up this morning by almost 3%. (Early on, we were up over the 3% mark but gains dropped off slightly after the EIA inventory reports were released this morning.) 

EIA Inventories showed builds on Crude of 7.5mmb, well above analyst expectations. Gasoline drew down 100K bbl, and distillate stocks dropped 2mmb, as well. Distillate numbers were essentially in line with expectations. Crude pared about .5% on the builds, and gasoline moderated but stayed up, as analysts were predicting builds of ~700K barrels versus the actual drop of 100K barrels reported. 

In broader news, most of today's increases are being pegged on confidence that the OPEC+ production cuts supposedly forthcoming will both be in effect quickly, and will see full member adherence to new lower limits.

Also, China is reporting the lowest number of new Coronavirus cases since January, which is continuing to restore confidence in their economy and calming fears regarding a longer term global slow down on oil demand growth.

At the close, Crude settled back up over $50 again at $51.17/bbl (Tuesday's close was $49.94), ULSD closed up .0490 to $1.6757 and RBOB closed up .0668 to $1.5810.

Stay tuned!

 

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Topics: OPEC, WTI Crude, EIA Inventories, china, Coronavirus

Crude drops 15% in January

Posted by Kelly Burke on Jan 31, 2020 3:32:02 PM

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After what seems like 76 days, January is finally over. 

As it goes into the books, January 2020 will go on record as having the largest drop in Crude prices since January 1991 - with a drop of 15% (around 12% on Brent). That's a lot on it's own, but it's especially surprising if you remember that the beginning of the month saw huge spikes on the US-Iran Strikes.

The largest driving factor dropping prices now is growing concern about the potential global economic impacts of the Coronavirus spreading from the Wuhan province in China. There have been several cases now outside of the original geographic area, including the first confirmed human to human transmission in the US.

Late Thursday the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the virus a global health emergency. Rumors abound that the State Media in China is vastly under reporting the numbers when it comes to official infection rates and the death toll. Whether that is true or not, it has thoroughly spooked investors and traders, as global markets and the NYMEX tumbled this week.

Wednesday's EIA report showed domestic Crude builds shot way past expectations, clocking in up 3.5mmb for the week ending January 24. (Gasoline also hit a high of 261.1mmb). Obviously builds do not bolster prices, but Wednesday was relatively calm as compared to both Monday & Thursday. Thursday alone saw a 2.2% decline in Crude prices (to $52.14), and a drop of over 6 cents on ULSD at the close. 

Markets kept the downward trend going today as well, with March contract month numbers closing down .0136 on ULSD & off 14 points on RBOB, with Crude settling out at $51.56/bbl.

Reportedly, OPEC is already in discussion to move their March meeting up to promote cuts and stem losses. It's worth noting that the Libyan outage had essentially zero effect on prices this week, where it otherwise (presumably) would have - so the OPEC changes will likely need to be substantial to move the needle, unless the Coronavirus dies down relatively quickly. 

So while we don't know how long prices will be depressed, or when they might reverse, what we do know is that times like this it makes sense to reevaluate the strategies you use to hedge against the market with contracts or variable options, so you can get ahead of the next spike.  

See you in February! 

 

 

 

 

 

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Topics: OPEC, WTI Crude, EIA Inventories, Coronavirus

Inventories & Rumored OPEC+ Cuts Boost Oil Prices

Posted by Kelly Burke on Dec 4, 2019 3:50:58 PM

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Markets shot up today after relative calm earlier in the week, on EIA inventory reporting this morning that showed a 4.9mmb drop in Crude, once again far surpassing analyst predictions.

This week's report marks the first time in 6 weeks that US Crude inventories have showed declines.

At the close, WTI settled at $58.43, ULSD was up .0430 to $1.9229, and RBOB was up .0413 to $1.6042. 

In terms of larger ongoing issues affecting markets, the OPEC meeting is still looming (this Thursday & Friday). Analysts expect that the OPEC+ agreement will both be extended and strengthened as a result of the upcoming meeting, and they expect deeper cuts going forward to be the main outcome of the meeting (rumor is cuts will be an additional 400K bpd).

However, there has been some drama recently with Saudi Arabia and other member nations over adherence to production caps.

Basically, Saudi Arabia has kept production well below their agreed upon level in order to offset the overproduction by non compliant producers (Iraq being chief offender - they over pumped by around a quarter million barrels per day). As a result of that, Saudi Arabia is essentially subsidizing and taking the financial hit for other countries over production in order to keep global pricing levels stable. 

Understandably, they are a little tired of doing so and last week threatened to unilaterally boost their own production and send the whole pricing house of cards tumbling if other nations don't step up their compliance rates. Its likely an empty threat - even though they're taking a hit covering for the other nations, they also stand to lose the most (by a LONG shot) if prices were to crash now. The threat is meant to keep other producers in line, but who knows what will happen if they don't. We will have to see how the meetings go at the end of this week. 

Stay Tuned! 

 

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Topics: OPEC, EIA Inventories

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