Analysis by Sydney Casey
Macro concerns weighed on markets this week, causing crude oil to drop to its lowest level in over a week. Extending gains from yesterday’s session, prompt crude prices are now up more than 60c/bbl, although they are still headed for a week-on-week deficit. With crude ticking upward and RBOB futures essentially unchanged, other petroleum contracts were witnessing more subdued early movements.
On Thursday, concerns over a potential 25% drop in Russian oil exports drove up crude and gasoline futures, while a new build in U.S. distillate supplies drove down diesel prices. This cut would signify additional production draws from the original 500,000 b/d announced earlier in the month. According to data released by the Energy Information Administration (EIA) yesterday morning, gasoline inventories dipped by roughly 1.9 million bbl, while distillate levels climbed by 2.7 million bbl in the last week. After the government reported that crude inventories rose by more than 16 million bbl last week, crude stocks rose yet another lofty 7.6 million bbl.
The US personal spending and inflation figures released this morning will be carefully watched by the market as they could provide additional clues about the direction the Fed will take in tightening monetary policy. The dollar is stronger, while shares are down before this morning’s release of US GDP data.
Furthermore, today is the one-year anniversary of Russia’s Ukraine invasion, and petroleum prices are nearly 40% below last year’s numbers. In March of last year, prompt WTI and Brent recorded 14-year highs of $130.50/bbl and $139.13/bbl, respectively.
Prices in Review
Crude oil opened the week at $76.49 before dipping to its low of $73.85 on Wednesday, a decline of over $2.50. For the rest of the week, crude held steady around the $75-76 range. On Friday, crude opened at $75.94 and is swinging up and down by $1.
Diesel prices mostly remained the same this week, opening at $2.7353 on Monday and peaking around $2.8055 on Wednesday. Recovering from its low of $2.6709 yesterday, diesel opened Friday at $2.7544, a gain of 8 cents versus yesterday and up almost 2 cents for the week.
Gasoline also held stable this week, opening at $2.4216, gaining a high on Tuesday of $2.4534 before dropping to a low of $2.32 late Wednesday evening. This morning, gasoline opened above $2.40 and is settling around $2.3628, down more than 5 cents (-1.3%) for the week.