Oil Extends Gains Above $31 After API Reports Surprise Inventory Draw

Against expectations of a 3.5mm build (following a small draw last week), API reports total crude oil inventories shockingly drew down by 3.3 million barrels. Meanwhile Cushing inventories also drew down (by 175k versus expectations for a 700k build and 523k build last week), but we note that Gasoline inventories rose (by 750k) for the 14th week in a row. Having rallied all day on Iran over-supply news (??), WTI extended its gains, pushing above $31 to the day's highs.

18 Dead, At Least 61 Injured After Massive "Terrorist" Bombing In Turkish Capital

Update: Sure enough, AKP says this is being treated as "an act of terror"

Did Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan just get the excuse he needed to invade Syria? Expect this to be pinned on either ISIS or the PKK. If it's the latter, Ankara will once again claim that the group is working in concert with the YPG and that will be all the evidence Erdogan needs to march across the border. 

WTI Crude Soars To $31 - Erases All "Production Freeze" Disappointment Losses

So let's get this straight. Russia and OPEC 'agree' to consider (not actually act upon) "freezing" production levels (at current record high levels) and the market plunges amid disappointment over no cuts. And today WTI spikes and erases all those losses as Iran supports the "freeze" plan but will not cut its own production plans...

Crude Confused - WTI Rallies As Iran 'Supports' OPEC Freeze But Won't Cut Production

The algos are happy. Headlines proclaim Iran "supports" the Doha proposal to "freeze" oil production levels (at record levels) and oil spikes. However, what they failed to grasp was Iran's lack of commitment to actual production levels... i.e. Iran fully supports production cuts for everyone else... but will not freeze its own production.

Oil Tumbles Under $30 As Iran Refuses Doha Proposal, Goldman Warns "Freeze Doesn't Help"

Oil prices limped higher overnight in their ubiquitous carry-driven way, only to tumble quickly this morning as the reality that, as Goldman says "at record levels, this production freeze doesn't help at all") and clear indications from the meetings in Tehran that Iran will do 'whatever it takes' to increase its production to pre-sanctions levels. WTI is back below $30.

Frontrunning: February 17

  • Futures rise as oil gains hold steady (Reuters)
  • China promises economic stability as G20, parliament loom (Reuters)
  • Obama scolds Senate Republicans for Supreme Court threat (Reuters)
  • China Deploys Missiles on Disputed South China Sea Island (WSJ)
  • China Ramps Up Rhetoric, Plans New Steps to Juice Up Economy (BBG)
  • China Loses Control of the Economic Story Line (WSJ)

S&P Futures Storm Above 1900, Europe Jumps Despite Gloomy Asian Session

It has been a morning session of two halves. In Asia, the mood was somber, and stocks fell with the Shanghai Composite (+1.1%) outperforming on another late session binge-fest by the National Team. The European session on the other hand surged higher and did not look back when the USDJPY proceeded to soar 100 pips from overnight lows, and push the Stoxx 600 +1.7% and US equity futures up with it, with the ES trading above 1900 as of this posting, adding to the best 2-day rally in the S&P in five months.

Russia's Trap: Luring Sunnis Into War

Washington should think more than twice about allowing Turkey and Saudi Arabia, its Sunni allies, militarily to engage their Shiite enemies in Syria. Allowing Sunni supremacists into a deeper sectarian war is not a rational way to block Russian expansion in the eastern Mediterranean. And it certainly will not serve America's interests.

Frontrunning: February 16

  • Oil eases off highs after output freeze agreement (Reuters)
  • Saudis and Russia agree to oil output freeze, Iran still an obstacle (Reuters)
  • China Loses Control of the Economic Story Line (WSJ)
  • Obama starts work to pick Supreme Court justice amid political 'bluster' (Reuters)
  • The Never-Ending Story: Europe’s Banks Face a Frightening Future (BBG)
  • Apollo Global to buy security services company ADT for $7 billion (Reuters)

Saudis, Russians Fail To Cut Oil Production, Will Freeze Output At Record January Level

Last night when previewing today's main event, the "secret" meeting between the Saudi and Russian oil ministers, we explicitly said this deal would not "lead to a cut in production", and sure enough just two hours ago the meeting between the two oil superpowers concluded and as expected the two failed to agree to any production cut; instead what they did agree on was to "freeze" production at January's already record levels, and furthermore make the agreement contingent on other OPEC members complying, something Iran has already said it would not agree to.

Global Stocks Soar On Stimulus Hopes After Miserable Chinese, Japanese Data; Short Squeeze

"The Chinese market didn’t react as bad as we feared and with the weak export data there is some big hope that he central banks will react quite fast," John Plassard, senior equity-sales trader at Mirabaud Securities LLP in Geneva, told Bloomberg. "It’s a mix of hope of intervention from the Asian central bank, short squeeze and also a relief in some energy and banking sectors, the most shorted sectors." And there are your catalysts for today's surge: hope of more central bank intervention and a global short squeeze.