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Speculation Down - Prices Down - Production Up - Inventory Surges
During the week ending January 13th, the spot month diesel futures price decreased by 5.18 cents per gallon (-3.04%) while the deferred months decreased by 5 to 7 cents per gallon making the forward pricing curve lower and about unchanged in slope. The one year forward price ended the week at a 9.93 cent premium to the spot price, from a premium of 9.89 cents at the end of the previous week.
The level and slope of the diesel forward pricing curve indicates lower demand expectations and steady inventories with respect to demand. Demand includes speculative demand which decreased 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.
During the week ending January 13th, the spot month gasoline futures price decreased by 2.23 cents per gallon (-1.36%) while the deferred months decreased by 2 to 4 cents per gallon making the forward pricing curve lower and more negatively sloped over the next year. The one year forward price ended the week at a 3.42 cent discount to the spot price, from a discount of 3.04 cents and the end of the previous week.
The change in level and shape of this forward pricing curve indicates lower demand expectations and lower inventory levels with respect to supply and demand. Demand includes speculative demand which was lower on the week.
The US dollar was lower on the week which is positive for price. Inventories on the week were higher which is negative 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 higher which is negative for price. Domestic production is down 3.04% on a year over year basis. Oil rig count indicating the number of oil wells currently being developed by drilling was higher on the week which is negative for price.
Weekly US petroleum demand increased by 3.80% during the week ending January 6th. Domestic demand is up 1.30% vs. one-year ago and demand is currently 6.63% above the five year average.
Domestic production increased for the second week and is 3.04% below year ago levels. The number of operating oil drilling rigs in the US decrease by 7 and stands at 522. This was the first decrease in 11 weeks. This is 206 more than the recent low of 316 and 67.56% lower than the peak of 1609 in October 2014. The increasing rig count is causing US production to stabilize and grow as the global rebalancing of supply and demand continues. US domestic production has decreased by 273,000 barrels per day since the beginning of the year and 664,000 barrels per day since the peak of 9.61 million barrels per day in June 2015.
Below is the one-year chart of spot diesel futures prices as of January 13th.
Below is the one-year chart of spot gasoline futures prices as of January 13th.
MARKET FACTORS & COMMENTARY:
: : Inventories increased by 17.48 million barrels while inventories were expected to increase by 4.46 million barrels on the week. The five-year average inventory increased by 3.42 million barrels. Inventories increased vs. the five year average and vs. expectations.
: : The Stock market decreased by -0.10% which is negative for economic and petroleum demand expectations and prices.
: : The US Dollar decreasing by -1.02% on the week is positive 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.
SUPPLY & DEMAND:
The charts below show supply and demand history and expectations for December and January. Supply and demand are in the process of re-balancing which is the main cause of steady to higher price levels over the past 6 months. The January forecast shows a more balanced market than the December forecast due to expected OPEC cuts.
Below is the one-year chart US stock market prices as of January 13th.
Below is the one-year chart for the US dollar index as of January 13th.
During the week ended January 6th, total petroleum inventories increased by 17.48 million barrels vs. a five year average increase of 5.43 million barrels and vs. an expected increase of 4.46 million barrels. Inventories increased by 12.04 million barrels vs. the five year average and increased by 13.02 million barrels vs. expectations. Total inventories stand at 893.6 million barrels, up from 876.1 million barrels at the end of the previous week. The five year average inventory is 729.7 million barrels, up from 724.3 million barrels at the end of the previous week.
Current inventories are 22.47% higher than the five year average, up from +20.97% at the end of the previous week.
As of January 10th, the net speculative long position in petroleum futures was 401,833,000 barrels, down 3,073,000 barrels (-0.76%) from the previous week. Speculation decreased for the first time in eight weeks and represents 44.97% of domestic inventories. Speculation is 75.79% above its one year moving average. The corresponding spot month diesel futures price on January 10th was 161.14 cents per gallon, down 6.53 cents from 167.67 cents per gallon during the previous week.
Diesel fuel price and size of speculative net long position in petroleum are 79.81% correlated over the past 52 weeks indicating that, on a statistical basis over the past year that 63.69% of diesel fuel price movements are explained by changes in level of speculation.
The net speculative long position has been variable over the past year ranging between 76 million and 405 million barrels with an average of about 229 million barrels, which is up about 7 million barrels on the week.
Based on a multiple regression analysis considering the level of the dollar, speculation, and inventory over the past five years as of January 10th, the market price for spot month diesel futures is estimated to be 138.26 versus the actual price of 161.14. This indicates that the market is currently overvalued by 22.88 cents per gallon given the assumptions of the pricing model. This overvaluation is down by 5.49 cents on the week.
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.