Both WTI and Brent suffered a loss of more than 7%

RecapOil futures finished sharply lower Thursday, with both WTI and Brent suffering a loss of more than 7%, after President Donald Trump imposed restrictions on travel from Europe to the U.S. in an effort to contain the coronavirus pandemic, feeding concerns over the global economy and energy demand. A flood of cheap supply coming onto the market from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates compounded pressure on prices. The Gulf Arab producers are raising production as they go on the offensive in an oil price war with Russia. Prices pared losses briefly after the Federal Reserve Bank of New York said it would increase Treasury purchases and introduce new repo operations. The bounce faded quickly across markets. April WTI dropped $1.48, or 4.5%, to settle at $31.50, while May Brent tumbled $2.57, or 7.2%, to $33.22 a barrel.

Among energy futures, gasoline took the biggest percentage hit, with prices down over 19% and settling below $1 a gallon, at their lowest since 2008. April RBOB plunged 19.2% to 89.75 cents a gallon, while April heating oil dropped 6.3% to $1.1598 a gallon.

Technical Analysis: Although we had a big break to the downside, April WTI has basically held between the range of $36.35 and $30.00 over the past 4 trading sessions. Based upon an hourly chart, this market is now in a downward channel. The bottom of this channel is currently set at $28.81. A break below this channel will open up an opportunity for this market to reach $27.34, the low set on Monday. A break above the upper trend line of this channel sets up for a run at $36.35, the top of the sideways trading pattern.

Fundamental News: Saudi Arabia has increased its efforts to squeeze Russia’s Urals crude out its main markets by offering its own cheap barrels.  Market sources stated that Saudi Aramco is trying to replace Urals in refiners’ feedstock around the world, from Europe to India. 

Mexico’s Energy Minister, Rocio Nahle, hinted at the country’s “willingness” to cut crude oil production in a bid to support prices, but it was unclear whether any new voluntary cuts may go beyond already declining production. 

Russia’s Gazprom Neft may increase its output starting April 1st, increasing it by 40,000-50,000 bpd within one month. 

US Vice President, Mike Pence, said thousands more coronavirus cases are expected in the US, and officials are seeking to ramp up testing.  He gave no details on how such screening would be expanded.  On Wednesday night, US President Donald Trump imposed a travel ban for most foreign nationals who have traveled to the Schengen area in Europe during the previous 14 days from entering the US.   President Trump said trade will not be affected by the 30-day restrictions on travel from Europe.  President Donald Trump also stated that the US will give individuals, and small and mid-sized businesses a three-month tax holiday to try to fight the economic impact of the coronavirus.  It will also give affected companies $50 billion more in low-interest loans.  He said he would instruct the Small Business Administration to exercise available authority to provide capital and liquidity to firms affected by the coronavirus.  He said he would ask Congress to increase funding for the SBA lending program to $50 billion. That would more than double the amount of loans the SBA’s lending program made in fiscal year 2019.   

The cost to transport oil on supertankers increased on Thursday as major producers scrambled to secure vessels to ship more crude in a bid to regain market share and buyers took advantage of declining oil prices. 

Saudi Aramco has rejected at least three Asian refiners’ requests for additional bargain-priced crude for April, despite a recent pledge by the country to increase its supplies to a new record. 

Early Market Call – as of 9:00 AM EDT

WTI – Apr $33.35, up $1.85

RBOB – Apr $.9591, up 6.23 cents

HO – Apr $1.1999, up 3.97 cents

View the Sprague Refined Products Market Watch Report in a downloadable pdf format by clicking below.

Click to view more online:
Heating Oil Supplier

Diesel Supplier
View market updates
View our refined products glossary
Go to SpraguePORT online

This market update is provided for information purposes only and is not intended as advice on any transaction nor is it a solicitation to buy or sell commodities. Sprague makes no representations or warranties with respect to the contents of such news, including, without limitation, its accuracy and completeness, and Sprague shall not be responsible for the consequence of reliance upon any opinions, statements, projections and analyses presented herein or for any omission or error in fact. The views expressed in this material are through the period as of the date of this report and are subject to change based on market and other conditions. This document contains certain statements that may be deemed forward-looking statements. Please note that any such statements are not guarantees of any future performance or results and actual results or developments may differ materially from those projected. The whole or any part of this work may not be reproduced, copied, or transmitted or any of its contents disclosed to third parties without Sprague’s express written consent.