Gasoline RBOB Futures Market News and Commentary
May WTI crude oil (CLK19) on Friday closed down -$0.94 (-1.57%) per barrel and May Brent crude (CBJ19) closed down -$0.83 (-1.22%). May RBOB gasoline (RBK19) closed down -0.40 cents per gallon (-0.21%). A rally in the dollar index to a 1-week high Friday pressured the energy complex along with energy demand concerns on weaker-than-expected global economic data. The Eurozone Mar Markit manufacturing PMI unexpectedly fell -1.7 to 47.6, weaker than expectations of +0.2 to 49.5 and the steepest pace of contraction in 5-3/4 years. The U.S. Mar Markit manufacturing PMI unexpectedly fell -0.5 to 52.5, weaker than expectations of +0.5 to 53.5 and the weakest pace of expansion in 1-3/4 years. A sell-off in the S&P 500 to a 1-week low Friday was another negative for the energy complex since that diminishes confidence in the economic outlook and in energy demand. Crude prices on Thursday rallied to a 4-1/4 month high on tighter supply after the EIA reported on Wednesday that U.S. crude inventories unexpectedly plunged -9.59 million bbl last week, much weaker than expectations for a +1.75 million bbl build. Also, product supplies tumbled as EIA gasoline stockpiles fell -4.587 million bbl (vs expectations of -2.5 million bbl) and distillate inventories fell -4.127 million bbl (vs expectations of -1.5 million bbl). The energy complex still has some support from Monday when Saudi Arabian Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih said that OPEC+ members are conforming well to the crude production cuts they agreed to in January and that compliance with the cuts will easily exceed 100 percent in March. In a bearish factor, however, Russia is insisting that OPEC+ delay a decision until June on extending the 1H production cuts into 2H, suggesting that Russia may be reluctant to extend its production cuts. Crude prices recovered from their worst levels Friday after data from Baker Hughes showed active U.S. oil rigs in the week ended March 22 fell by -9 rigs to an 11-month low of 824 rigs.Big Picture Crude Oil Market Factors: Bullish factors include (1) the -560,000 bpd decline in OPEC Feb crude production to a 4-year low of 30.5 million bpd, (2) comments from Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih that Saudi Arabia will cut its crude production to 9.8 million bpd in March, the lowest in 11 months and well below the 10.3 million bpd output target agreed in the OPEC+ deal, (3) the action by the Trump administration to slap sanctions on Venezuela's national oil company PDVSA, which will block the company from exporting crude oil to the U.S. and restrict supplies, (4) the reinstatement of full U.S. sanctions on Iran as of Nov 5, although the U.S. gave waivers to 8 countries for up to 1.25 mln bpd of Iranian exports, and (5) the agreement by OPEC+ on Dec 7 to cut crude oil production by 1.2 million bpd for the first six months of 2019 (800,000 bpd for OPEC members), which should soak up much of the expected 2019 global oil surplus. Bearish factors include (1) the surge in U.S. oil production to a record high of 12.1 million bpd, (2) the recent surge in U.S. gasoline inventories to a record high 259.6 million bbl, and (3) the recent increase in crude supplies at Cushing, the delivery point for WTI futures, to a 14-month high.