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 WATCH: NYMEX crude oil prices end February with a gain

03/02/2015 The contract for US light, sweet crude oil for April delivery rose more than $1/bbl Feb. 27, and analysts said February marked the first monthly ga...

Magellan, PAA form Saddlehorn crude pipeline joint venture

02/27/2015 Magellan Midstream Partners LP and Plains All American Pipeline LP have formed Saddlehorn Pipeline Co., a 50-50 limited liability joint venture, to...

Recent CSIS report outlines main US oil infrastructure challenges

02/27/2015 The US crude oil renaissance has created strong demand for expanded US transportation systems, resulting in five primarily challenges, a recent Cen...

PetroChina mulling sale of its stake in Arrow CSG

02/27/2015

PetroChina is reportedly considering selling its half of Arrow Energy’s Queensland coal seam gas (CSG) resources.

Michie named Oil & Gas UK chief executive

02/27/2015

Deirdre Michie has been named chief executive of Oil & Gas UK, replacing Malcolm Webb, who will retire May 31.

MARKET WATCH: NYMEX crude oil prices swing down again

02/27/2015 The contract for US light, sweet crude oil for April delivery plunged by more than $2.80/bbl on the New York market Feb. 26 as volatility sent crud...

Low crude prices pressure Latin American producers, CSIS forum told

02/26/2015 Depressed crude oil prices are putting new pressure on Latin American producing countries to improve terms if they expect to attract outside invest...

Petroleum detected in fish tested after Yellowstone River pipeline spill

02/26/2015 Detectable levels of petroleum were found in tests of fish pulled from the Yellowstone River downstream from a broken petroleum pipeline near Glend...

Suriname bid round draws lackluster response

02/26/2015 The dramatic fall in oil prices is being blamed for the lack of interest shown by international oil companies (IOCs) in the deepwater offshore Suri...
White Papers

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...

Accurate Thermo-Fluid Simulation in Real Time Environments

The crux of any task undertaken in System Level Thermo-Fluid Analysis is striking a balance between ti...

6 ways for Energy, Chemical and Oil and Gas Companies to Avert the Impending Workforce Crisis

As many as half of the skilled workers in energy, chemical and oil & gas industries are quickly he...
Sponsored by
Available Webcasts

On Demand

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


The Future of US Refining

Fri, Feb 6, 2015

Oil & Gas Journal’s Feb. 6, 2015, webcast will focus on the future of US refining as various forces this year conspire to pull the industry in different directions. Lower oil prices generally reduce feedstock costs, but they have also lowered refiners’ returns, as 2015 begins with refined products priced at lows not seen in years. If lower per-barrel crude prices dampen production of lighter crudes among shale plays, what will happen to refiners’ plans to export more barrels of lighter crudes? And as always, refiners will be affected by government regulations, particularly those that suppress demand, increase costs, or limit access to markets or supply.

register:WEBCAST


Oil & Gas Journal’s Forecast & Review/Worldwide Pipeline Construction 2015

Fri, Jan 30, 2015

The  Forecast & Review/Worldwide Pipeline Construction 2015 Webcast will address Oil & Gas Journal’s outlooks for the oil market and pipeline construction in a year of turbulence. Based on two annual special reports, the webcast will be presented by OGJ Editor Bob Tippee and OGJ Managing Editor-Technology Chris Smith.
The Forecast & Review portion of the webcast will identify forces underlying the collapse in crude oil prices and assess prospects for changes essential to recovery—all in the context of geopolitical pressures buffeting the market.

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