Market volatility has become the rule, not the exception, and this week has continued that trend. This week, fortunately, volatility has been (somewhat) in consumers’ favor. Crude oil ended the week roughly in line with Monday’s opening price, but diesel and gasoline both saw lower prices later in the week.
News has been mounting of the diesel supply shortage, which has put pressure on the entire fuel complex. This week, Goldman Sachs stoked fears for gasoline as well, noting that strong summer demand could send gas inventories plummeting, making $6/gal retail gasoline a real possibility across the US.
With prices so high, markets increasingly expect the economy to weaken as a result. During the middle of the week, those concerns took hold and sent prices of all products sharply lower. Today, Reuters noted that in Europe, Singapore, and the US, diesel stocks are at the lowest levels since 2008, adding that “a period of slower growth or even a recession is imminent.”
But if a recession is coming, it’s not here now. Demand remains strong, and prices rebounded later in the week to recover some of those losses. The EIA’s weekly report will be very important to monitor over the next few weeks – watch petroleum demand, fuel inventories, and refinery yields to see how prices will behave. If demand remains strong, expect prices to remain elevated (and climbing) for the foreseeable future.