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Refined Products

Recap: Ignoring weakness in the dollar, early gains in oil were severed amid uncertainty that OPEC and non-OPEC members could come to an agreement on cutting output. This increasing doubt chipped away at yesterday's 8 percent increase in WTI, bringing the March contract back below $32 a barrel. Spot futures settled at $31.72, down 56 cents or 1.73 percent. Brent slipped 58 cents or 1.66 percent to settle at $34.46.    

March RBOB gained 1.47 cents, or 1.5%, to settle at $1.0284 a gallon, while March heating oil was up slightly to settle at $1.081 a gallon, for a modest gain of 19 points.

Fundamental News: Genscape reported that crude stocks held in Cushing, Oklahoma built by 340,000 barrels from Friday, January 29th.

US President Barack Obama will propose a new $10/barrel fee on oil in his budget plan next week as the White House seeks to increase the country's investments in clean transportation projects.  The proposed fee, which would be paid by oil companies, is likely to fall flat in the US Congress. 

Venezuela's Oil Minister, Eulogio del Pino, said he had a "good and productive" meeting with his Qatari counterpart, without giving more details.  He is scheduled to meet Saudi Arabia's Oil Minister, Ali al-Naimi, on Sunday.  On Wednesday, Iranian news agency Shana quoted Venezuela's Oil Minister as saying that six producing countries, including OPEC members Iran and Iraq and non-OPEC Russia and Oman supported a producer meeting.  Qatar's Energy Ministry said the Qatari and Venezuelan energy ministers discussed issues related to the world oil market.  The Ministry also said the two sides exchanged views and expectations in the short and long term.  Oman's Oil Minister Mohammad bin Hamad al-Rumhi reiterated his support of the actions Venezuela has taken to stabilize the market.   

Market sources said this week's volatility in the global crude oil market was likely caused in part by the sudden liquidation of a $600 million leveraged fund bet on falling prices.  ETN data showed that unknown investors in the VelocityShares 3x Inverse Crude Oil Exchange Traded Note, which offers the ability to make a bearish bet on prices magnified threefold, bailed out early this week after jumping into the fund in January.  According to FactSet Research, about 1.8 million shares worth more than $602 million were redeemed on Tuesday, the largest outflow from the ETN in the past year.  As a result, the mass exodus likely forced the ETN's issuer, Credit Suisse, to quickly buy back short positions as investors redeemed shares.  The unwinding of the position may have amounted to upwards of 40,000 futures contracts on Tuesday. 

Ali Akbar Velayati, the top adviser to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said Iran supports the idea of a meeting between OPEC and other oil producers in the near future.  He said OPEC and non-OPEC producers need to meet soon.  Separately, he stated that Iran has been discussing possible oil sales to top Russian crude oil producer Rosneft. 

International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde said that low oil and commodities prices would continue for some time and the IMF will consider strengthening and broadening its array of precautionary financing instruments.  Separately, the IMF's chief stated that China's economy can avoid a hard landing and shift to a lower, more sustainable growth rate if China pursues reforms to state enterprises and sticks to a more market driven and well communicated exchange rate policy.   

Magellan Midstream Partners LP said that every tank is has available is already leased.  While it could not say how much oil was physically in its tanks, it said its tanks in Cushing, Oklahoma are "pretty full" and its refined product storage tanks in the US Midwest are also "pretty full."

Early Market Call - as of 9:00 AM EDT

WTI - Mar $31.55, down 17 cents

RBOB - Mar $1.0105, down 1.79 cents

HO - Mar $1.0631, down 1.75 cents

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Natural Gas

Thursday, February 4th, saw the front-month NYMEX Natural Gas Futures Contracts open at $2.004, three cents below Wednesday’s closing price of $2.038.  Entering the market in a slight decline, prices temporarily slipped below $1.980, though soon recovered to $1.995.  Maintaining this level until the 10:30AM storage publication, the contract then jumped to the intraday high of $2.026.  Trending lower from here, prices fell through the balance of the morning, reaching the intraday low of $1.954 shortly after noon.  Posting marginal gains to close out the session, March closed lower on Thursday at $1.973.

The EIA Natural Gas Storage Report published on Thursday showed a 152 BCF withdrawal from storage for the week ended January 29th – nearly even with the market estimate of 154 BCF.  Total working gas in storage was reported as 2,934 BCF, 20.0% above this time last year and 17.9% above the five-year average.

This morning in Globex, WTI Crude was up 41 cents; Natural Gas was up seven cents; Heating Oil was up slightly; and, Gasoline was down slightly.

Cash prices were higher in New York and New England.

Natural Gas Glossary

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