Despite chatter over Russia "collaring" oil prices and 'anonymous OPEC' comments on Saudi, the short-squeeze ammo is out of the market and fundamental reality is weighing on crude. At a $43 handle, WTI is now back at Saudi-Statement levels...
After a muted end to August, September started off on the strong foot overnight following a surprising beat in China's official manufacturing PMI print, which rose above 50 to the highest level in almost two years. That, together with a record rebound in the UK PMI, bolstered investor confidence, fueling gains in stocks and industrial metals. The dollar advanced against most of its peers while bonds retreated before Friday’s payrolls report.
In the latest confirmation of Saudi Arabia's rapidly deteriorating financial situation, having recently sacked 16,000 foreign workers, earlier today the Ministry of Islamic Affairs announced it has terminated the services of 10,000 substitute imams to save 360 million Saudi Riyals, or less than $100 million, the Saudi Gazette reported. The ministry gave the substitute imams the option to either transfer to the position of a full-time imam leading five prayers a day at a mosque or to leave their job all together.
As attention turns to what is now the biggest wildcard in global oil demand, one which could directly lead to the evaporation of up to 1 mmbpd in demand, Bloomberg writes that "the world is puzzling" over China's Strategic Oil Reserve, and with good reason: if 1mm barrels of oil demand were to disappear, the price of oil would plunge as the already oversupplied market would find itself with an unprecedented glut of excess production.
In a note released moments ago by the EIA, whose bias to keeping prices as high as possible is no secret, admitted that "over the first six months of 2016, EIA weekly estimates underestimated total crude oil, petroleum, and biofuel exports by an average of 16%... which led to the overestimation of total consumption."
Having extended yesterday's losses on the back of API's unexpectedly large distillates inventory build, DOE data confirmed an even bigger crude inventory build (+2.276mm vs ~1.3mm build exp.), which contrary to seasonal patterns was the second build in a row, and 5 builds in the past 6 weeks. Gasoline drew down less than API reported and Distillates built considerably more than expected (+1.5mm vs +275k exp). While production slipped lower by 0.7%, crude prices tumbled on the inventory news, back down to $45.50.
The August market doldrums were on display on the last day of the month as S&P futures were fractionally lower on non-existent volume, while both Europe and Asia were modestly in the green; ten-year Treasury yields headed for the biggest monthly jump in more than a year while the dhe dollar gained for a sixth day against the yen in the longest winning streak since March. European stocks advanced for a second day, adding to a monthly gain as oil trimmed its advance in the best month since April.
After last week's surprise crude build (biggest in ~4 months) and builds across the entire complex, API reported a crude build of 942k barreles (just shy of expectations of +1.5mm) and while Cushing and Gasoline saw draws, Distillates saw a major 3mm barrel build (+275k exp). The initial reaction in crude was to extend the day's losses, back below $46.50...
Whether a freeze occurs or not is likely to be the trending gossip among speculators for the next month, at a time when such talk is exerting greater-than-average pull on the crude price. But a question worth asking is whether a freeze is even possible, given the state of OPEC and the increasingly divergent interests of its fourteen members.
The hghest current expectations confidence since August 2007 has sparked a moment of turmoil in the markets as USD strength sends stocks and oil reeling. Gold is down modestly and Treasuries are bid with the long-end outperforming (as the yield curve flattens to yet another cycle low)...
The quiet overnight market had been focused on the upcoming comments by Stanley Fischer, who is set to give a Bloomberg TV interview at 6:30am ET, where he was expected to expand on his recent hawkish comments. Heading into Fischer's appearance, the dollar strengthened, global stocks rose, oil hovered around $47, while US index futures were largely flat and Treasuries fell.
WTI Crude is now down 6% from last week's highs, back below $47 as supply concerns (Abu Dhabi production rise and ConocoPhilips' CEO comments) and OPEC freeze talks doubts have combined with the biggest collapse in speculative short positions in history (following the Saudi statement) - removing the last 'short-squeeze' leg of support from this dead-cat-bounce.