Oil prices rose for the fourth consecutive session

Recap: Oil prices rose for the fourth consecutive session and posted their first weekly gain since early January, as a report of oil purchases by Chinese refiners helped to ease worries about a slowdown in oil demand from the spread of the coronavirus. March WTI rose to a high of $52.34 a barrel before trimming gains to settle at $52.05 a barrel, up 63 cents, or 1.23%, for a weekly rise of 3.4%.  April Brent settled 98 cents, or 1.7%, higher at $57.32 a barrel, for a weekly gain of 5.2%. March RBOB rose 0.2% to $1.5833 a gallon, for a weekly rise of 3.9%, while March heating oil ended nearly 1.1% higher at $1.6982 a gallon, posting a gain of 3.3% for the week.

Technical Analysis: March WTI settled back above the ascending trend line that can be depicted on a spot continuation chart as it continued to gain on the 10-day moving average, currently set at $51.36. With moving oscillators crossed to the upside in oversold territory, we would expect prices to begin the week trading to the upside. Resistance is set at $53.20 and above that at $54.37. Support is set at $51.36 and below that at $50.18.

Fundamental News: Baker Hughes reported that US energy firms added oil rigs for a second consecutive week.  US oil drillers added two oil rigs in the week ending February 14th, bringing the total count to 678. 

Oil sources stated that an increasing oil glut in Russia and the promise of an increase of dollars from the sale of a leading bank are strengthening the case for Russia to cut oil output along with OPEC.  OPEC, Russia and other producers have for more than a year implemented a deal to cut output by 2.1 million bpd.  The agreement expires at the end of March.  OPEC has recommended extending the output cuts and deepening the combined cuts because of the impact of the new coronavirus in China.  Russia has not yet made a decision on whether Russia will extend or deepen its output cuts. 

Petrobras’ Chief Executive Officer, Roberto Castello Branco, said the company’s contingency plan to deal with a workers’ strike will last as long as necessary.  He reiterated that the strike had not affected oil production. 

IIR Energy reported that US oil refiners are expected to shut in 741,000 bpd of capacity in the week ending February 14th, cutting available refining capacity by 95,000 bpd from the previous week.  Offline capacity is expected to fall to 683,000 bpd in the week ending February 21st and fall further to 578,000 bpd in the subsequent week.

The International Monetary Fund’s Managing Director, Kristalina Georgieva, said the IMF hopes governments and central banks will work on a response to the coronavirus outbreak once the economic impact becomes clear.  He said the next few weeks would be crucial to build up a “bottom-up” picture of the impact of the virus in China and worldwide. 

Authorities in China stated that the coronavirus has infected 1,700 Chinese health workers and killed six of them.  They reported 5,090 new cases in mainland China, including more than 120 deaths, taking the total number of infected to 63,851, and the number of deaths from the disease, now labeled Covid-19, to 1,380.  A World Health Organization-led joint mission with China will begin its outbreak investigation work this weekend and will focus on how the new coronavirus is spreading and the severity of the disease.  The mission will also seek more details on how, where and when the more than 1,700 health workers infected so far contracted the new virus.   

Early Market Call – as of 8:35 AM EDT

WTI – Mar $51.04, down $1.01

RBOB – Mar $1.6611, down 3.72 cents

HO – Mar $1.5766, down 68 points

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