Oil Bulls Advance Cautiously as Stocks Expected to Fall
07.03.2024 By Tank Terminals - NEWS

July 03, 2024 [Reuters]- Investors purchased petroleum for the third week running as bearishness triggered by the OPEC+ meeting at the start of June waned and fund managers anticipated a big depletion of inventories in the third quarter.

 

Hedge funds and other money managers purchased the equivalent of 86 million barrels in the six major petroleum futures and options contracts over the seven days ending on June 25.

Total purchases over the three most recent weeks reached 260 million barrels, according to records filed with ICE Futures Europe and the U.S. Commodity Trading Commission.

The combined position climbed to 467 million barrels (30th percentile for all weeks since 2013) up from just 208 million (1st percentile) on June 4 immediately after the meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies led by Russia, together known as OPEC+.

Funds, which had been extremely bearish, were now only mildly to moderately bearish about prices following reassurance planned production increases by OPEC+ will be contingent on market conditions.

The exception was European gas oil where fund managers had amassed a very bullish position of 74 million barrels (78th percentile) up from 15 million (20th percentile) three weeks earlier.

Traders anticipate a large depletion of crude and fuel inventories in the third quarter, peak season for oil burning in Middle East power stations and the height of the summer driving season in the United States.

OPEC+ is expected to continue restricting production until benchmark crude prices, climb sustainably above $90 per barrel, delaying scheduled output increases if this condition is not met until 2025.

The outlook has become dependent on a rebound in U.S. gasoline consumption in the holiday period and an acceleration of crude buying after a subdued first six months of 2024 in China.

US NATURAL GAS

Hedge funds and other money managers trimmed their emerging bullish position in U.S. gas slightly after a run up in prices and amid persistently high inventories.

Funds sold the equivalent of 79 billion cubic feet (bcf) in the two major futures and options contracts linked to the price of gas at Henry Hub in Louisiana.

It was only the second sale in the last eight weeks and comes after fund managers had purchased 2,845 bcf since Feb. 20.

Even after the adjustment, the net position was equivalent to 1,091 bcf, in the 58th percentile for all weeks since 2010.

U.S. gas inventories remain well above normal despite the onset of heatwaves driving higher electricity demand and more gas-fired generation.

Working inventories were the second highest on record for the time of year on June 21 and 568 bcf (+22% or +1.44 standard deviations) above the prior 10-year seasonal average.

The surplus has only narrowed slightly if at all since the middle of March, which has begun to test faith in the bullish case for inventories to be sharply reduced by hot weather and high air conditioning demand this summer.

Reflecting the slow adjustment, futures prices for gas delivered during August 2024 have retraced to $2.55 per million British thermal units from a high of $3.19 three weeks ago.

 

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