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Crude Oil WTI(CLN23)

Today's Change
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Crude Rallies with Risk Assets on Signs of Progress in Debt Ceiling Negotiations

Barchart - Fri May 26, 11:27AM CDT

July WTI crude oil (CLN23) this morning is up +0.71 (+0.99%), and July RBOB gasoline (RBN23) is up +3.05 (+1.19%).   June Nymex natural gas (NGM23) is down -0.083 (-3.60%).

Crude oil and gasoline prices today are moderately higher.  Signs that U.S. lawmakers are close to a deal to raise the debt ceiling sparked a rally in stocks and risk assets today.   Also, stronger-than-expected U.S. economic news today showed strength in the economy that is supportive of energy demand and crude prices.  However, gains in crude were limited after the dollar index rose to a 2-1/4 month high.  

Jun nat-gas this morning dropped to a 2-week low and is moderately lower.  Forecasts for seasonal U.S. temperatures that will reduce nat-gas demand from electricity providers to power air conditioning are weighing on nat-gas prices.  The Commodity Weather Group is forecasting mild temperatures across the southern and eastern U.S. over the next 15 days.  Also, a plunge in European nat-gas price today to a 2-year low is undercutting U.S. gas prices.  

Stronger-than-expected U.S. economic reports today were bullish for energy demand and crude prices.  Apr personal spending rose +0.8% m/m, stronger than expectations of +0.5% m/m.  Also, Apr capital goods orders nondefense ex-aircraft and parts, a proxy for capital spending, unexpectedly rose +1.4% m/m, stronger than expectations of a -0.1% m/m decline and the biggest increase in 16 months.  In addition, the University of Michigan U.S. May consumer sentiment index was revised upward by +1.5 to 59.2, stronger than expectations of 58.0.

The outlook for stronger U.S. fuel demand is bullish for crude prices.  AAA is forecasting that as many as 42.3 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home this Memorial Day weekend, up +7% y/y and the highest for a Memorial Day weekend since 2005.  

A bearish factor for crude was Russian Deputy Prime Minister Novak's comment Thursday that he doesn't see any new steps from OPEC+ and the group will likely maintain current crude production levels when it meets next month.  

On the bearish side, India's Apr crude imports fell -8.3% y/y to 19.8 MMT as processors curbed operating rates amid a drop in petroleum-product exports.  India is the world's third-largest crude-consuming country in the world.

In a bearish factor, Vortexa reported Monday that the amount of crude stored on tankers that have been stationary for at least a week rose +1.3% w/w to 91.15 million bbl in the week ended May 19.

The ongoing halt of Iraqi crude exports from the Turkish port of Ceyhan is tightening global oil supplies and is bullish for crude prices.  The Turkish government said it wants to negotiate a $1.5 billion settlement that it has been ordered to pay before allowing Iraqi crude exports to resume through its pipeline.  Oil exports of 500,000 bpd from the Turkish port of Ceyhan have been halted since March 25 after Iraq won an arbitration case from the International Chamber of Commerce that said Turkey violated a 1973 pipeline transit agreement by allowing crude from the Kurdish region to be exported without Iraqi government consent.

Crude oil prices are being undercut by signs that Russia has not delivered on its threat to cut crude output.  Tanker-tracking data from Bloomberg shows Russia's crude exports rose for the sixth week ending May 19 to nearly 4 million bpd.  Crude shipments from Russian ports are +1.2 million bpd higher than at the end of 2022, with most of the crude going to India and China.  Russia has halted the publication of crude and condensate production data in an attempt to disguise if it has actually cut crude output.

Crude prices surged on April 3 after OPEC+ announced a surprise oil production cut of more than 1 million bpd starting May 1.  Saudi Arabia said the cuts were a "precautionary measure aimed at supporting the stability of the oil market."  OPEC Mar crude production fell by -80,000 bpd to 29.16 million bpd.

Wednesday's EIA report showed that (1) U.S. crude oil inventories as of May 19 were -3.0% below the seasonal 5-year average, (2) gasoline inventories were -7.8% below the seasonal 5-year average, and (3) distillate inventories were -17.2% below the 5-year seasonal average.  U.S. crude oil production in the week ended May 19 rose +0.8% w/w to 12.3 million bpd, only 0.8 million bpd (-6.1%) below the Feb-2020 record-high of 13.1 million bpd.

Baker Hughes reported last Friday that active U.S. oil rigs in the week ended May 19 fell by -11 to an 11-month low of 575 rigs, falling further below the 2-1/2 year high of 627 rigs posted on December 2.  U.S. active oil rigs have more than tripled from the 17-year low of 172 rigs seen in Aug 2020, signaling an increase in U.S. crude oil production capacity.

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On the date of publication, Rich Asplund did not have (either directly or indirectly) positions in any of the securities mentioned in this article. All information and data in this article is solely for informational purposes. For more information please view the Barchart Disclosure Policy here.

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