Well, not much has changed since last week. The news on the open market is fairly calm. However, hedge fund managers are enjoying making their predictions of where WTI might head this year. My feelings are that WTI is over bought. There has not been this much hedge fund money on long position in the crude market since 2013. No wonder all the news is trying to “push” the market higher! I’m not sure without a major even there is much steam left in the crude rally. Russia is starting to float the idea of leaving the OPEC deal. When that event would occur is up in the air. Possibly at the June meeting or sooner is my guess. Now that prices of crude have gone higher than anticipated, I am watching for someone in OPEC to start the old fashioned cheating game. In addition, if we can make some moves to get the strength of our dollar moving positive, crude will also face another headwind. Even though crude inventories continue to fall in the U.S., production is starting to grow again. Finished product inventories are above average, and I expect to see some builds in crude inventories soon. I’m just not sold that we are truly at these prices based on current market conditions. I guess time will tell!
In local news, gasoline prices bumped up a smidge due to local Chicago market differential jumps. Diesel prices have continued to remain in a tight range. Propane prices ended up climbing a small amount due to some unanticipated supply disruptions. However, due to the warmer weather and forced allocations, supply is starting to ease back to normal. I am thinking that we are at about the peak price for the year. As I have said before, if warm weather continues into February, I expect to see propane prices fall. Exports of propane are not holding up to what was expected and demand is actually off a bit.
As always, if you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please feel free to give us a call!
Jon Crawford – Pres.