Equity Markets Point Higher

WTI and Brent are trading at new highs for the year to start the last trading day in March, as equity markets point higher on the day on renewed US-China trade optimism and the half-life of a President’s oil-related tweet impact on the market continues to shrink.

Unless there’s a dramatic mid-day reversal today (not expected) this is shaping up to be the strongest quarter for oil futures (along with several equity indices) since 2009. The heavy selling to end 2018 certainly set the stage for a recovery bounce, while OPEC cuts – both intentional and not – and a rash of refinery downtime – both planned and not – were also big contributors to the price rally.

Looking forward to the 2nd quarter, it seems the supply disruptions should be priced into the market, so additional upside may need to come from the demand side of the equation, and may hinge on whether or not the global economy continues to show signs of slowing down. This week’s dramatic reversal in gasoline prices seems to have burst the spring-breakout bubble, but there are still a few more weeks left in the RVP transition and there are 2 months until driving season officially kicks off so it’s still a little too soon to break out the calls for a seasonal top.

The latest in the Venezuela saga: Citgo has secured financing to continue its operations (which have to this point continued seemingly without issue since US sanctions on its parent company) while Russia is working on new ways to get the sanctioned crude to market, which I’m sure will be at a fair price if they succeed.

As part of its 2019 annual energy outlook, the EIA is highlighting its forecast that tight-oil, aka Shale plays will continue driving US oil production for the next few decades. The report is also suggesting that US oil production will continue climbing from its current record high of 12.1 million barrels/day to 14 million barrels/day in the next couple of years. At the same time, US tight-oil exports are facing new scrutiny as foreign buyers find issues with contamination caused by the comingled nature of US pipeline networks.


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