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Petroleum Market Commentary - August 4, 2014

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Prices Lower - Inventory Lower - Speculation Lower

DIESEL:

During the week ending August 1st, the spot month diesel futures price decreased by 5.74 cents per gallon (-1.96%) while the deferred months decreased by 3 to 6 cents per gallon making the forward pricing curve lower and more negatively sloped. The one year forward price ended the week at a 1.31 cent discount to the spot price, from a discount of 1.67 cents at the end of the previous week.

The change in level and slope of the diesel forward pricing curve indicates lower demand expectations and lower supplies with respect to demand. Demand includes speculative demand which was lower on the week. When the forward pricing curve decreases in slope (more negative or less positive), this usually indicates tighter inventories and is generally positive for price. When slope increases, this usually indicates more plentiful inventories and is negative for price.

Below is a one week chart of the diesel forward pricing curve as of August 1st.

GASOLINE:

During the week ending August 1st, the spot month gasoline futures price decreased by 9.59 cents per gallon (-3.38) while the deferred months decreased by 2 to 9 cents per gallon making the forward pricing curve lower and less negatively sloped. The one year forward price ended the week at a 5.59 cent discount to the spot price, from a discount of 10.04 cents and the end of the previous week.

The change in level and shape of this forward pricing curve indicates lower demand expectations and higher inventory levels with respect to supply and demand.

Below is a one week chart of the gasoline forward pricing curve as of August 1st.

ANALYSIS:

The US dollar was higher on the week which is negative for price. Inventories on the week were lower which is positive for price. The stock market, as a proxy for demand expectations, was lower which is negative for price. Speculation was lower on the week which is negative for price. US domestic crude production was lower which is positive for price. Domestic production is up 11.95% year over year.

DEMAND:

Weekly US petroleum demand increased by 1.53% during the week ending July 25th. Domestic demand is down 0.91% vs. one-year ago and demand is currently 1.07% over the five year average.

The attractiveness of making new hedges increased on the week as prices and speculation both decreased. As prices move and as time passes, the advisability of hedging will change. As further price opportunities present themselves, hedging will become more attractive.

Below is a chart of three-year domestic crude production as of July 25th.



Below is a chart of average vs. five-year demand as of July 25th.



Below is the one-year chart of spot diesel futures prices as of August 1st.



Below is the one-year chart of spot gasoline futures prices as of August 1st.

MARKET FACTORS:

: :  Inventories decreasing by 2.54 million barrels while inventories were expected to increase by 0.40 million barrels on the week. The five-year-average inventory decreased by 1.09 million barrels. Inventories decreased vs. the five year average and vs. expectations.

: :  US June pending home sales unexpectedly declined by the most in 6 months. This shows weakness in the housing sector which may indicate overall economic weakness which would be negative for petroleum demand expectations and price.

: :  Generally decreased geopolitical concerns on the week in Ukraine and Iraq and Israel which causes lower speculation and weaker prices.

: :  The US Stock market decreasing by 2.69% on the week which is negative for economic and petroleum demand expectations and prices.

: :  The US Dollar increasing by 0.34% on the week which is negative for petroleum price. Commodities are used as a hedge against inflation and against a falling dollar. A stronger dollar reduces the relative demand for commodities for this purpose and prices decrease accordingly. Conversely, a weaker dollar increases relative demand for commodities and prices increase.

INVENTORIES:

During the week ended July 25th, total petroleum inventories decreased by 2.54 million barrels vs. a five year average decrease of 1.09 million barrels and vs. an expected increase of 0.40 million barrels. Inventories decreased by 1.45 million barrels vs. the five year average. Total inventories stand at 712.3 million barrels, down from 714.9 million barrels at the end of the previous week. The five year average inventory is 723.3 million barrels, down from 724.4 million barrels at the end of the previous week.

Current inventories are 1.52% lower than the five year average down from -1.32% at the end of the previous week. Inventory levels continue to remain close to the five year average.

Below is the chart of current inventory as a percentage of the five year average as of July 25th.



Below is the chart of current inventory vs. the five year average as of July 25th.

SPECULATION:

As of July 29th, the net speculative long position in petroleum futures was 299,654,000 barrels down 11,057,000 barrels (-3.56%) from the previous week. Speculation decreased on the week and represents 42.07% of domestic inventories. Speculation is 17.29% below its one year moving average. The corresponding spot month diesel futures price on July 29th was 290.67 cents per gallon, up 8.25 cents from 282.42 cents per gallon during the previous week.

Diesel fuel price and size of speculative net long position in petroleum are 21.95% correlated over the past 52 weeks (an increase on the week) indicating that, on a statistical basis over the past year 4.82% of the price movement of diesel fuel is explained by changes in levels of speculation. A linear regression analysis over the past 52 weeks shows that if speculation were zero and the market forces causing speculation evaporated, that the spot month diesel futures price would be 287.90 cents per gallon or 2.76 cents per gallon less than current prices. The analysis would indicate that about 0.91% of current price is attributable to speculation and its underlying market rationale. The "would be" price was about one cent lower on the week.

The net speculative long position has been variable over the past year ranging between 246 million and 453 million barrels with an average of about 362 million barrels, which is down about 3 million barrels on the week.

The graph below is three year history of speculative position levels as of July 29th.

CONTACT:

Linwood Capital, LLC is an institutional fuel hedging management, advisory, and consulting firm. Linwood creates and manages customized fuel hedging programs for institutional consumers of petroleum and natural gas.