Gasoline RBOB Futures Market News and Commentary
July WTI crude oil (CLN19) on Friday closed +0.23 (+0.44%), and Aug Brent crude oil (CBQ19) closed +0.70 (+1.14%). July RBOB gasoline (RBN19) closed up +0.0126 (+0.73%). Crude oil prices on Friday closed higher on continued US/Iran tensions after the U.S. Central Command late Thursday released a video that it said showed an Iranian Revolutionary Guard patrol boat removing an unexploded mine from the hull of the Kokuka Courageous tanker after that tanker had been damaged by another mine on Thursday. President Trump on Friday squarely blamed Iran for Thursday's attacks on two tankers and vowed that Iran will not be allowed to close the Strait of Hormuz to oil shipments. US officials said that the U.S. is considering U.S. naval escorts for oil tankers in the Persian Gulf and that all options remain open. The markets remain worried that the U.S. may be planning at least a limited military strike against Iranian assets as a deterrent against any new Iranian attacks. Oil prices also saw support from Friday's positive U.S. May retail sales report of +0.5% m/m and the May industrial production report of +0.4% m/m. Oil prices were undercut by Friday's report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) forecasting that increased oil production will swamp demand in 2020. The IEA is predicting that new production of 2.3 million bpd in 2020 will substantially outweigh their forecast for a 1.4 million bpd rise in demand, which would put pressure on OPEC+ to implement additional cuts if they want to keep oil prices supported. Russian Energy Minister Novak on Friday said that talks are at the final stage about moving the OPEC and OPEC+ meetings from June 25-26 to the beginning of July. The markets are taking it as a bearish sign that OPEC+ is having so much trouble even scheduling a meeting to decide whether to extend their production cut into the second half of 2019, although that extension is nevertheless expected to occur. Friday's Baker Hughes report was slightly bullish since the number of active rigs fell by -1 rig to a new 1-1/2 year low of 788 rigs. Wednesday's EIA data showed that U.S. crude oil inventories as of June 7 were a hefty +8.4% above the 5-year average, gasoline inventories were +2.2% above the 5-year average, and distillate inventories were -4.2% below the 5-year average. Big Picture Crude Oil Market Factors: Bullish factors include (1) 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, (2) the sharp -7% drop in OPEC crude production so far in 2019 to a 4-1/2 year low of 30.260 million bpd in April and May, (3) heightened Iran tensions after the recent attacks on oil tankers and ships near the Strait of Hormuz that could eventually draw at least a limited U.S. military response, (4) the sharp drop in Iranian oil production from U.S. sanctions and in Venezuela oil production from U.S. sanctions and the economic crisis, and (5) the decline in active U.S. oil rigs to a 1-1/2 year low of 788 rigs in the week ended June 14. Bearish factors include (1) global trade tensions that may drag global growth and energy demand lower with stalled US/China trade talks and threats by President Trump to impose tariffs on Mexican imports unless Mexico stops the migration of immigrants to the U.S., (2) the recent rally in the dollar index to a 2-year high, (3) the recent surge in U.S. oil production to a record high of 12.4 million bpd, and (4) ample current supplies with U.S. crude oil inventories +8.4% above the 5-year average as of Jun 7 at a 1-3/4 year high of 485.47 million bbl.