Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Despite hype, oil and gas prices actually down this week

Last week, all the stations in my old neighborhood sold regular at $2.29.  When I drove though my old neighborhood on an errand yesterday, one of the three stations down the street was closed, but the other two had lowered their prices to $2.27.  Meanwhile, the corner station was again camped out in No Man's Land at $2.49.  Based on the Detroit average of $2.35 at GasBuddy, the two outlets down the street are properly priced, while the corner station is 15-20 cents too high.  I expect it to go down, although not necessarily matching the rest at $2.27.  As I wrote last time, "if the commodity prices continue to go up or hold steady, they will pull retail prices up.  The only question is how long."

On that note, it appears that oil prices are actually slightly down.  Last week's report had, WTI closing at $53.98 and Brent at $59.10.  OilPrice.Net shows that prices are actually down since then with WTI closing yesterday at $53.29 and Brent at $58.43.  That's not the way Reuters reported it.  Follow over the jump for their attempt to hype today's price movements in an article that is currently the third most read on the site.

The headline read Oil rises on U.S. production dips, Middle East tensions.
Crude oil futures rose on Tuesday on signs of falling U.S. oil production, weakness in the dollar and tensions in the Middle East, particularly Yemen.

North Dakota's February oil production fell 15,000 barrels per day (bpd) versus January, data showed on Tuesday, although the number of producing wells hit a record high.
The fall in production I've been expecting since prices collapsed may have just begun, although this is only for North Dakota.  The following, should it come true, would mean more.
North Dakota's report followed the U.S. Energy Information Administration's (EIA) Monday report forecasting U.S. shale production will fall by 45,000 bpd to 4.98 million bpd in May, which would be the first monthly decline in four years.
That's only a drop in the bucket, but it's early.

Meanwhile, Reuters maded today's price movements look bigger and more significant than I think they really were.
Ahead of Wednesday's May contract expiration, Brent rose 50 cents to settle at $58.43 a barrel, just above its $58.40 100-day moving average. Brent also was above that average intraday Monday.

U.S. May crude rose $1.38 to settle at $53.29, surging above its 100-day moving average of $52.96.

The moves above those averages, closely watched by market technicians, were the first since July 2014.
Yes, the elves like these stats, but prices are still lower than they were a week ago.  I'll believe there will be a price movement when both futures contracts make new highs for the year.  Both are still below their highs in February, so I'm not convinced.

As for future retail prices, I'd be swayed by "U.S. gasoline and diesel futures also rose on the API data, showing that gasoline and distillate inventories fell" except that those prices are still lower than last week, when the spot price of RBOB closed at $1.86.  Today, RBOB closed at $1.84, which is actually down.  Once again, the article is pushing a short-term bullish narrative for oil that is not that well supported by the facts.  I'm not that afraid that prices will shoot up at the pump within the week.  The longer term is another story, but not one for tonight.

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