MARKET WATCH: Crude oil hits highest closing price since early April

Sam Fletcher
OGJ Senior Writer

HOUSTON, Nov. 5 -- The price of December crude jumped 2.1% Nov. 4 to the highest level for a New York front-month contract since Apr. 6 as the market continued its reaction to the Federal Reserve Bank’s decision to buy $600 billion of Treasuries over the next 8 months to stimulate the US economy.

It was the fourth consecutive price hike for crude this week. The December natural gas contract increased 0.5%, regaining most of its loss from the previous session.

Analysts in the Houston office of Raymond James & Associates Inc. said, “Apparently, the market needed some time to make up its mind about the Fed's latest round of quantitative easing (QE2). After posting modest gains [on Nov. 3], the broader market screamed higher yesterday with the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (up 1.9%) reaching levels not seen since 2008.” They said energy corporate stocks “took the cue from crude,” outperforming the broader market.

The Fed’s monetary stimulus plan furthered weakened the US dollar, which fell 0.4% against the euro to the lowest level since Jan. 20, encouraging investors to shift their money to the riskier commodities of oil and gold. Gold prices surged 2.5%, the biggest 1-day jump in nearly 6 months.

“We don’t see crude decoupling from the currency markets in the near future as the reactions about the US’s looser monetary policy will keep this pot boiling,” said Anuj Sharma, research analyst at Pritchard Capital Partners LLC in Houston. “The Fed also kept the benchmark funds rate unchanged at 0.25% as economic recovery remains disappointing slow.”

The dollar exchange rate and equity market trends “are working in favor of even higher oil prices,” said Adam Sieminski, chief energy economist for Deutsche Bank in Washington, DC. However, he said, “We would be more convinced of the sustainability of the oil price rally if it were accompanied by an elimination in contango in the crude oil forward curve and improvements in fundamentals.”

Sieminski said, “The recovery in middle distillates demand growth has been more robust relative to other fuels.” Demand growth among nonmembers of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development—specifically Asian countries—continues to outpace the developed world. “In our view, these two features of the market will persist, which has implications for supply-demand balances from a seasonal perspective as well as price trends,” he said.

Meanwhile, Walter de Wet at Standard New York Securities Inc., the Standard Bank Group, said, “We believe that the Commodity Futures Trading Commission data released later today is likely to show that noncommercial long positions have increased from already high levels last week.” The weekly CFTC report last week showed net speculative length in crude pushed higher last week, while net speculative length in oil products declined.

De Wet said, “The current level of the speculative length in oil could cause oil prices to pull back very sharply despite the Fed’s QE2 program. To highlight the risk of such a correction, there were two previous big drops in oil prices when net speculative length had reached current levels. One was in January-February, another was April-May. We believe that commodity markets are pricing in QE2 already, and commodities will not necessarily continue to rally. We need new data to support higher prices.”

The biggest immediate threat to the current commodity price rally is “another round of tightening in monetary policy in China,” he said.

Olivier Jakob at Petromatrix, Zug, Switzerland, said, “We continue to believe that QE2 is better played in equities than in oil futures. Oil prices are already back to the end 2007 levels, but the oil fundamentals are nowhere near those of 2007, and we continue to expect that higher commodity prices will be met with increasing hectic reactions from the CFTC (never mind that it is the Fed fueling the commodity price hike).”

In its just-published medium-term outlook for crude, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries assumes oil prices will stay at $75-85/bbl until 2020. “They have a Call-On-OPEC for 2014 at 30.4 million b/d, i.e. only 1.2 million b/d higher than the current production and 1.6 million b/d less than the 2007 Call-On-OPEC,” Jakob noted. “It is easy to discount anything that comes out of OPEC, but we need to keep in mind that the International Energy Agency also is not calling for an increase in the Call-on-OPEC for next year. In the meantime, unresolved unemployment and rising oil prices are not a positive for oil demand, and it is at those price levels that US oil demand started to get hit at the end of 2007.”

Energy prices
The December contract for benchmark US light, sweet crudes traded at $84.92-86.83/bbl Nov. 4 before closing at $86.49/bbl, up $1.80 for the day on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The January contract climbed $1.81 to $87.16/bbl.

On the US spot market, West Texas Intermediate at Cushing, Okla., was up $1.80 to $86.49/bbl, once more in lockstep with the front-month futures price. Heating oil for December delivery gained 4.52¢ to $2.33/gal on NYMEX. Reformulated blend stock for oxygenate blending for the same month increased 3.91¢ to $2.18/gal.

The December natural gas contract recovered 2¢ to $3.86/MMbtu on NYMEX. On the US spot market, gas at Henry Hub, La., escalated by 13.9¢ to $3.51/MMbtu. Meanwhile, the Energy Information Administration reported the injection of 67 bcf of natural gas into US underground storage in the week ended Oct. 29. That put working gas in storage above 3.8 tcf—up 37 bcf from the comparable period last year and 353 bcf above the 5-year average (OGJ Online, Nov. 4, 2010). “Weak supply and demand balances suggest excess storage will persist across the winter,” Sieminski said.

In London, the December IPE contract for North Sea Brent crude was up $1.62 to $88/bbl. Gas oil for November gained $15.25 to $737.50/tonne.

The average price for OPEC’s basket of 12 reference crudes rose $1.77 to $84.33/bbl.

Contact Sam Fletcher at samf@ogjonline.com.

Related Articles

Market watchers' adjustments offer hints of recovery

01/26/2015 Because markets look ahead, changes in standard forecasts offer potentially important signals during storms such as the one now pummeling the oil a...

A message from Oil & Gas Journal

12/15/2014

An important transition occurred during production of this issue of Unconventional Oil & Gas Report.

MARKET WATCH: Crude oil prices down as US government shutdown lingers

10/16/2013 The front month crude oil contract on the New York market dropped to the lowest level on Oct. 15 since it last settled below $100/bbl on July 2.

MARKET WATCH: Crude oil traded higher amid Washington budget talks

10/15/2013 Crude oil futures prices traded higher on the New York market Oct. 14 as US lawmakers reported progress in ongoing efforts toward reaching an agree...

MARKET WATCH: Oil prices close down at end of volatile week

10/14/2013 The NYMEX November crude contract lost 99¢ on Oct. 11, settling at $102.02/bbl ending a week of volatile trading. The December contract fell 83¢ to...

MARKET WATCH: Oil prices continue falling as Syria risk apparently lessens

09/17/2013 Oil futures prices reached their lowest level in 3 weeks with the Sept. 16 closing while the US and Russia agreed to terms under which Syria is exp...

MARKET WATCH: Oil prices rebound slightly awaiting US decision on Syria

09/04/2013 Oil prices climbed on New York and London markets Sept. 3 in response to comments indicating key US lawmakers will support US President Barack Obam...

MARKET WATCH: Syria crisis puts pressure on some oil markets

08/27/2013 Crude oil prices in world markets edged upwards Aug. 26 on reports that “tolerance of the West for what’s taking place in Syria appears to be comin...

MARKET WATCH: Oil futures rise Aug. 23 on Lebanon violence

08/26/2013 Oil futures prices rose on the New York market Aug. 23, and traders attributed the increase to escalating violence in the Middle East that added to...
White Papers

Pipeline Integrity: Best Practices to Prevent, Detect, and Mitigate Commodity Releases

Commodity releases can have catastrophic consequences, so ensuring pipeline integrity is crucial for p...
Sponsored by

AVEVA’s Digital Asset Approach - Defining a new era of collaboration in capital projects and asset operations

There is constant, intensive change in the capital projects and asset life cycle management. New chall...
Sponsored by

Transforming the Oil and Gas Industry with EPPM

With budgets in the billions, timelines spanning years, and life cycles extending over decades, oil an...
Sponsored by

Asset Decommissioning in Oil & Gas: Transforming Business

Asset intensive organizations like Oil and Gas have their own industry specific challenges when it com...
Sponsored by

Squeezing the Green: How to Cut Petroleum Downstream Costs and Optimize Processing Efficiencies with Enterprise Project Portfolio Management Solutions

As the downstream petroleum industry grapples with change in every sector and at every level, includin...
Sponsored by

7 Steps to Improve Oil & Gas Asset Decommissioning

Global competition and volatile markets are creating a challenging business climate for project based ...
Sponsored by

The impact of aging infrastructure in process manufacturing industries

Process manufacturing companies in the oil and gas, utilities, chemicals and natural resource industri...
Sponsored by

What is System Level Thermo-Fluid Analysis?

This paper will explain some of the fundamentals of System Level Thermo-Fluid Analysis and demonstrate...
Available Webcasts


The Alternative Fuel Movement: Four Need-to-Know Excise Tax Complexities

When Thu, Jun 4, 2015

Discussion on how to approach, and ultimately embrace, the alternative fuel market by pulling back the veil on excise tax complexities. Taxes may be an aggravating part of daily operations, but their accuracy is crucial in your path towards business success.

register:WEBCAST



On Demand

Prevention, Detection and Mitigation of pipeline leaks in the modern world

Thu, Apr 30, 2015

Preventing, detecting and mitigating leaks or commodity releases from pipelines are a top priority for all pipeline companies. This presentation will look at various aspects related to preventing, detecting and mitigating pipeline commodity releases from a generic and conceptual point of view, while at the same time look at the variety of offerings available from Schneider Electric to meet some of the requirements associated with pipeline integrity management. 

register:WEBCAST


Global LNG: Adjusting to New Realities

Fri, Mar 20, 2015

Oil & Gas Journal’s March 20, 2015, webcast will look at how global LNG trade will be affected over the next 12-24 months by falling crude oil prices and changing patterns and pressures of demand. Will US LNG production play a role in balancing markets? Or will it add to a growing global oversupply of LNG for markets remote from easier natural gas supply? Will new buyers with marginal credit, smaller requirements, or great need for flexibility begin to look attractive to suppliers? How will high-cost, mega-projects in Australia respond to new construction cost trends?

register:WEBCAST


US Midstream at a Crossroads

Fri, Mar 6, 2015

Oil & Gas Journal’s Mar. 6, 2015, webcast will focus on US midstream companies at an inflection point in their development in response to more than 6 years shale oil and gas production growth. Major infrastructure—gas plants, gathering systems, and takeaway pipelines—have been built. Major fractionation hubs have expanded. Given the radically changed pricing environment since mid-2014, where do processors go from here? What is the fate of large projects caught in mid-development? How to producers and processors cooperate to ensure a sustainable and profitable future? This event will serve to set the discussion table for the annual GPA Convention in San Antonio, Apr. 13-16, 2015.

This event is sponsored by Leidos Engineering.

register:WEBCAST


Emerson Micro Motion Videos

Careers at TOTAL

Careers at TOTAL - Videos

More than 600 job openings are now online, watch videos and learn more!

 

Click Here to Watch

Other Oil & Gas Industry Jobs

Search More Job Listings >>
Stay Connected