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Refined Products

Recap: Oil markets settled Friday all on an up note, as the September NYMEX ULSD (HO) and NYMEX RBOB (Gasoline) futures contracts expired. With lower-than-normal volume, and additional end-of-month volatility to start the long weekend, the bulls managed to push higher with NYMEX (WTI) Crude settling up $1.41 to $95.96 and ICE Brent up 73 cents to $103.19.  September NYMEX RBOB popped up 3 cents to settle at $2.7827 as the summer grade RVP contract went off the board and the incoming October contract settled up 3.21 cents, but is lower at $2.6229. September NYMEX ULSD (HO) settled up 79 points to $2.8569, and the incoming October contract settled up 83 points at $2.8601. Worries over further Russian incursions into Ukraine could have helped oil markets higher as further economic sanctions by the West on Russia could result in "counter" sanctions from Russia. This time, the worry will not be over Russia's sanctions on fruit imports from Europe, but rather their oil exports to Europe. However, the more immediate pop up last Friday could have been on reports that production "rates were cut by nearly one-third after Thursday's explosion and fire" at BP's Whiting refinery in Indiana. (The Schork Report 9-2-14) Currently, with the Labor Day holiday done, summer gasoline demand having reached its peak, and the CFTC reporting on Friday that bullish speculators are harder to find (see below), oil markets are down sharply this morning across the board. NYMEX ULSD is down 3.09 cents to $2.8292, NYMEX RBOB is down 4.22 cents to 2.5807, NYMEX Crude is down $1.05 to $94.91, and ICE Brent is down $1.06 t0 $101.73.

Speculator "Spec" Watch:  Net Speculative length increased minimally for NYMEX (WTI) Crude , declined to a four-year low for NYMEX RBOB (Gasoline), and  NYMEX ULSD (HO) a net-short position expanded 37.6%, a real bearish move. According to the CFTC's Commitments of Traders Report released on Friday for reporting through Tuesday, August 26th, the Money Manager (Speculative) category for NYMEX (WTI) Crude, net speculative length (combined futures and options contracts), increased slightly .6% from the previous week of 188,589 futures and options to 189,753.  NYMEX RBOB net speculative length decreased a whopping 31.6% from 28,431 futures and options contracts to 19,444. NYMEX ULSD (HO) is still net short and even more so than the previous reports: now -12,545 more futures and options contracts than the previous week at -7,828 contracts . With speculators losing their desire to be long and reducing their bets that the market will move up for gasoline, and with ULSD speculators still net short, it looks like the bears are still awake.

Vacation Catch-ups:

1) On Friday, Ukraine requested full membership in NATO, its strongest way of pleading for Western military aid. However, Russian President Putin, "defiant as ever, compared Kiev's drive to regain control of its rebellious eastern cities to the Nazis invasion of the Soviet Union in World War Two." (Reuters 8-29-14) NATO has satellite photographs of Russian artillery columns in Ukraine. 2) Prime Minister David Cameron of Great Britain has raised his country's terrorism threat level to "severe," indicating that an attack in Great Britain was "highly likely." Cameron said on Friday, "What we're facing in Iraq with ISIL (Islamic State) is a greater and deeper threat to our security than we have known before." (Reuters 8-29-14) 3) U.S. consumer sentiment, as measured by the Thomson Reuters - University of Michigan index, rose during August to 82.5 on median economists' expectations of 80.1 and up from 81.8 in July 2014. 4) Brazil, Latin America's largest economy, has fallen into a recession with gross domestic product (GDP) shrinking .6 percent in the 2nd quarter and 1st quarter being revised down .2%.

Click to view today's oil markets Market Watch report including graphs in a downloadable format.
Natural Gas

On Friday August 29th the prompt month NYMEX Natural Gas Futures contracts opened at $4.043, slightly below Thursday’s closing price.  October fell after the open, dipping to the intraday low of $4.013 at 9:30AM.  But prices quickly recovered as buying interests entered the market.  By 11:15AM, they had reached $4.068.  October mostly traded downwards for the remainder of the morning hours.  The early afternoon session found October seesawing around the $4.05 mark.  Aided by another round of buying, prices surged to the intraday high of $4.073 minutes before the close.  Some analysts attributed this last-minute gain to the weather forecasts calling for warmer temperatures this week in the East.  The front month NYMEX Natural Gas Futures contracts closed at $4.065 on Friday.

This morning in Globex, WTI Crude was down more than one dollar; Natural Gas was down eight cents; and, both Heating Oil and Gasoline were down nearly four cents.

Natural Gas Glossary

For access to Sprague’s full Natural Gas Market Watch Report including commentary not posted here, please send your request to or call 1-855-466-2842.