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Quiet Start To US Hurricane Season Takes Heat Out Of Oil Prices: Kemp

Quiet Start To US Hurricane Season Takes Heat Out Of Oil Prices: Kemp

By John Kemp, Senior Market Analyst at Reuters

The Atlantic hurricane…

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Quiet Start To US Hurricane Season Takes Heat Out Of Oil Prices: Kemp

By John Kemp, Senior Market Analyst at Reuters

The Atlantic hurricane season is nearing its halfway point and so far no hurricanes have made landfall on the coast of the United States, contributing to the recent downward pressure on oil and fuel prices.

The Atlantic season lasts from June 1 to Nov. 30, with half of the storms usually occurring before Sept. 12, based on records compiled by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

On average, four hurricanes made landfall somewhere on the Atlantic or Gulf Coasts of the United States by Sept. 12 each year between 1851 and 2021 (“Hurricane database”, HURDAT2, NOAA). 

But this year the start of the hurricane season has been the quietest for 25 years. There were no Atlantic hurricanes in the month of August for the first time since 1997 and only the third time since 1950 ("Quiet start to hurricane season", Wall Street Journal, Sept. 7).

No hurricanes have made landfall on the Atlantic or Gulf Coasts so far in 2022, ensuring crude and fuel production has continued uninterrupted and helping ease concerns about the low level of inventories.

Hurricanes tracking through the oilfields of the western Gulf or making landfall near the refining centres of Texas and Louisiana have the potential to interrupt offshore crude production and onshore gasoline and diesel refining. Severe storms in these areas often create a short-term spike in crude and fuel prices and traders anticipate potential moves by bidding up futures contracts for deliveries in September and October.

In May, NOAA forecast this year would see an above-average number of hurricanes and tropical storms, based in part on La Niña conditions in the Pacific (“NOAA predicts above-normal Atlantic hurricane season”, May 24).  The agency reiterated this forecast as recently as the start of August (“NOAA still expects above-normal Atlantic hurricane season”, Aug. 4).

The possibility of hurricanes disrupting oilfield output or gasoline and diesel refining was especially worrisome given sanctions on Russia’s oil and diesel exports and the low level of oil inventories especially diesel stocks.

Hurricane risk likely contributed to rapidly rising prices for crude and abnormally high refining margins for gasoline and especially diesel through the end of July.

But the forecast storms have not materialized.

Falling Prices

Half the hurricane season still lies ahead so there is plenty of time for significant damage to offshore platforms and onshore refineries.  In statistical terms, however, the risk is now much lower than it seemed between June and early August, which has likely taken some of the heat out of crude and fuel prices.

Prices for gasoline, in particular, have been falling much faster than for crude in recent weeks as the risks to the refining system have dropped.

Gasoline pump prices, including taxes, were at a premium of $1.58 per gallon ($66 per barrel) to Brent crude on Sept. 5 compared with $2.35 per gallon ($99 per barrel) in the middle of June.

The gasoline premium has fallen close to its lowest levels since Russia invaded Ukraine in late February and is broadly similar to the premium a year ago, as some hurricane risk has evaporated. Premiums have narrowed even though gasoline inventories at the end of August were 14 million barrels (6%) below the pre-pandemic five-year average for 2015-2019.

Diesel prices have remained firmer, in part because inventories remain much lower and manufacturing and freight activity has proved more resilient than expected a couple of months ago.

Distillate fuel oil inventories near the end of August were 32 million barrels (22%) below the pre-pandemic five-year seasonal average.

As a result, on-road diesel prices were at a premium of $2.80 per gallon ($118 per barrel) to Brent on Sept. 5 which was little changed from $3.10 per gallon ($130 per barrel) in the middle of June.

But it is likely that diesel prices would have moved even higher if the hurricane season had been much more active so far.

The quiet start to the season has removed one source of production risk while high prices and a slowing economy have started to dampen consumption.

The combined impact has been a significant reduction in the risk of fuel shortages with prices retreating from their mid-year highs.

Related column: - Hurricane season menaces already stretched U.S. diesel supply (Reuters, May 26)

Tyler Durden Fri, 09/09/2022 - 12:10

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Global Wages Take A Hit As Inflation Eats Into Paychecks

Global Wages Take A Hit As Inflation Eats Into Paychecks

The global inflation crisis paired with lackluster economic growth and an outlook…

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Global Wages Take A Hit As Inflation Eats Into Paychecks

The global inflation crisis paired with lackluster economic growth and an outlook clouded by uncertainties have led to a decline in real wages around the world, a new report published by the International Labour Organization (ILO) has found.

As Statista's Felix Richter reports, according to the 2022-23 Global Wage Report, global real monthly wages fell 0.9 percent this year on average, marking the first decline in real earnings at a global scale in the 21st century.

You will find more infographics at Statista

The multiple global crises we are facing have led to a decline in real wages.

"It has placed tens of millions of workers in a dire situation as they face increasing uncertainties,” ILO Director-General Gilbert F. Houngbo said in a statement, adding that “income inequality and poverty will rise if the purchasing power of the lowest paid is not maintained.”

While inflation rose faster in high-income countries, leading to above-average real wage declines in North America (minus 3.2 percent) and the European Union (minus 2.4 percent), the ILO finds that low-income earners are disproportionately affected by rising inflation. As lower-wage earners spend a larger share of their disposable income on essential goods and services, which generally see greater price increases than non-essential items, those who can least afford it suffer the biggest cost-of-living impact of rising prices.

“We must place particular attention to workers at the middle and lower end of the pay scale,” Rosalia Vazquez-Alvarez, one of the report’s authors said.

“Fighting against the deterioration of real wages can help maintain economic growth, which in turn can help to recover the employment levels observed before the pandemic. This can be an effective way to lessen the probability or depth of recessions in all countries and regions,” she said.

Tyler Durden Mon, 12/05/2022 - 20:00

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Unprecedented Liquidations Lead To Historic Collapse In Investors’ Oil Exposure

Unprecedented Liquidations Lead To Historic Collapse In Investors’ Oil Exposure

By John Kemp, senior market analyst

Portfolio investors sold…

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Unprecedented Liquidations Lead To Historic Collapse In Investors' Oil Exposure

By John Kemp, senior market analyst

Portfolio investors sold petroleum heavily for the third week running as fears about disruption to crude oil flows from the price cap on Russia’s exports receded.

Hedge funds and other money managers sold the equivalent of 42 million barrels in the six most important oil-related futures and options contracts over the seven days ending on Nov. 29.

Sales over the three most recent weeks totalled 190 million barrels, more than reversing the 169 million barrels purchased over the previous six weeks in October and early November. As Bloomberg adds, money managers have trimmed positioning in Nymex crude for three weeks in a row. A breakdown of the data show the drop in positions is mostly from money managers cutting long exposure, rather than an abrupt short-covering.

In the latest week, sales were again concentrated in crude (-40 million barrels), especially Brent (-39 million), with only insignificant changes in other contracts.

Brent is the contract with the most direct exposure to the crude exports from Russia subject to the price cap announced by the United States, the European Union and their allies on Dec. 2.

Fund managers cut their net position in Brent to just 99 million barrels (6th percentile for all weeks since 2013) last week from 238 million barrels (50th percentile) on Nov. 8.

Bullish long positions outnumbered bearish short ones in Brent by a ratio of just 2.17:1 (11th percentile), down from 6.74:1 in late October (76th percentile).

The long-short ratio is the lowest for two years since November 2020, before the first successful coronavirus vaccines were announced a few weeks later.

Fears the price cap would reduce global crude supplies appear to have prompted a wave of buying in both physical and paper markets throughout late September and early October.

Precautionary buying drove front-month Brent futures up to a high of almost $99 per barrel on Nov. 4 from just $84 on Sept. 26. It also helped keep the futures market in a steep six-month backwardation.

But as it became clear the cap would be set at a relatively high level, with a relaxed approach to enforcement, this buying has reversed, causing prices and spreads to fall sharply.

With the risk from the price cap removed, for now investors’ attention has returned to the weak outlook for the economy and oil consumption in 2023.

Tyler Durden Mon, 12/05/2022 - 14:21

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The Gall Of Lockdowners Who Support China’s Anti-Lockdown Protests

The Gall Of Lockdowners Who Support China’s Anti-Lockdown Protests

Authored by Michael Senger via ‘The New Normal’ Substack,

If the intent…

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The Gall Of Lockdowners Who Support China's Anti-Lockdown Protests

Authored by Michael Senger via 'The New Normal' Substack,

If the intent was to get western elites to simultaneously support totalitarianism in their own countries while pretending to oppose it in China, then Xi Jinping has certainly made his point...

Across the political spectrum, voices have risen up in support of the Chinese people who’ve launched protests of unprecedented scale against the Chinese Communist Party’s indefinite Covid lockdown measures.

As well they should. Even by Chinese standards, the lockdowns that Xi Jinping pioneered with the onset of Covid are horrific in terms of their scale, their duration, their depravity, and the new totalitarian surveillance measures to which they’ve led. Anyone who participates in a protest in China runs a risk of being subject to cruel and arbitrary punishment. For ordinary Chinese people to brave that risk in defiance of this new form of inhuman medical tyranny is an act of courage worthy of admiration.

There are notable exceptions to the otherwise widespread support the protesters have received. Apple has been silent about the protests, and had the gall to limit the protesters’ use of a communication service called AirDrop in compliance with the CCP’s demands, even as it threatens to remove Twitter from its app store over Elon Musk’s free speech policy. This comes even after Apple has long ignored requests by FCC officials to remove the Chinese-owned app TikTok from its app store over unprecedented national security concerns. So Apple complies with requests by the Chinese government, but not the United States government. Let that sink in…

Apple is, unfortunately, far from alone in its CCP apologism. Anthony Fauci told CNN that China’s totalitarian lockdowns would be fully justified so long as the purpose was to “get all the people vaccinated.”

This kind of apologism for the CCP’s grisly bastardization of “public health” is horrific, especially coming from the man most widely seen as the leader of America’s response to Covid.

But what may be even more galling than this apologism is the widespread support China’s anti-lockdown protesters have received even among those who demonized anti-lockdown protesters in their home countries and wished their lockdowns were more like China’s.

In 2020, the New York Times denounced anti-lockdown protesters as “Anti-Vaxxers, Anticapitalists, Neo-Nazis” and urged the United States to be more like China.

But in 2022, the New York Times admired the bravery of China’s anti-lockdown protesters fighting Xi Jinping’s “unbending approach to the pandemic” that has “hurt businesses and strangled growth.”

In 2020, CNN published an open letter from “over 1,000 health professionals” denouncing anti-lockdown protests as “rooted in white nationalism” while admiring “China’s Covid success compared to Europe.”

But in 2022, CNN admired China’s anti-lockdown protesters as “young people” who “cry for freedom”

In 2020, the Washington Post denounced anti-lockdown protesters as “angry” populists who “deeply distrust elites,” and wished the United States was more like China.

But in 2022, the Washington Post celebrated global “demonstrations of solidarity” with China’s anti-lockdown protests.

In 2020, the New Yorker denounced anti-lockdown protesters as “militias against masks” while marveling at how “China controlled the coronavirus.”

But in 2022, the New Yorker admired the protesters standing up to Xi Jinping.

Earlier this year, Amnesty International issued a statement of concern about Canada’s anti-lockdown Freedom Convoy protests being affiliated with “overtly racist, white supremacist groups,” even as Justin Trudeau invoked the Emergencies Act to crush the protests.

But now, Amnesty International has issued a statement urging the Chinese government not to detain peaceful protesters.

These headlines are, of course, in addition to the hundreds of other commentators, influencers, and health officials, such as NYT journalist Zeynep Tufekci, who used their platforms in 2020 to urge for lockdowns that were even stricter than those their governments imposed, but now join in support for those in China protesting the same policies they were urging their own countries to emulate.

Etymologically, Zeynep’s latter comment makes no sense. Lockdowns had no history in western public health policy and weren’t part of any democratic country’s pandemic plan prior to Xi Jinping’s lockdown of Wuhan in 2020. Though some countries, such as Italy, imposed lockdowns shortly before the United States, their officials too had simply taken the policy from China. Thus, because no other precedent existed, any call for a “real lockdown” or a “full lockdown” in spring 2020 was inherently a call for a Chinese-style lockdown.

Though by “full lockdown” Zeynep may have intended somewhere in between the strictness of lockdowns in the United States and China, there was no way for any reader to know what that medium was; it existed only in her own head. Thus, the reader is left only with a call for a “full lockdown,” and the only example of a “successful” “full lockdown” that then existed was a full Chinese lockdown.

Zeynep’s latter comment further illustrates the efficacy of what was arguably some of the CCP’s most effective lockdown propaganda in early 2020: The ridiculous viral videos of CCP cadres “welding doors shut” so poor Wuhan residents couldn’t escape.

CCP apologists have argued that these videos prove the CCP was not trying to influence the international response to Covid, because they make the CCP look so bad. But on the contrary, the over-the-top inhumanity of the idea of welding residents’ doors shut was precisely the purpose of this propaganda campaign. The idea had to be so absurd that no decent government would ever actually try it. It thus gave the CCP and its apologists an infinite excuse for why lockdowns “worked” in China and nowhere else—because only China had ever had a “real lockdown” in which residents were welded into their homes.

When those with a decent knowledge of geopolitics or a bit of common sense see a graph like this, which looks nothing like that of any other country in the world, from a regime with a long history of faking its data on virtually every topic, the conclusion is obvious: China’s results are fraudulent. But to simple minds, a weld is a strong, durable bond capable of incredible feats, from supporting skyscrapers to spaceships. Surely, if a weld can do all that, then it must be able to stop a ubiquitous respiratory virus?

The entire concept is, of course, utterly asinine. You cannot stop a respiratory virus by indefinitely suspending everyone’s rights. But this idea that lockdowns had worked in China because the CCP had gone so far as to weld people into their homes was invoked over and over again during Covid, creating a limitless “No-True-Scotsman” out for lockdown apologists as to why lockdowns weren’t “working” anywhere except China. Whether COVID-19 cases went up, down, or sideways, the solution would always be the same: “Be more like China.”

The use of this darkly humorous propaganda campaign of welding residents into their homes speaks to two key points as to how Xi Jinping and CCP hawks like him view China’s relationship with the west. The first is that westerners will never respect the CCP; thus, you can make westerners believe anything so long as it confirms westerners’ prior belief that the CCP is barbaric.

Second, Xi Jinping sees the concepts of democracy and human rights as mere propaganda that western elites use to further their own self-interest. So long as they approve of a policy, then it’s not a human rights violation, but if they oppose it, then it is. It remains to be seen whether the response to Covid will, in the long run, ultimately advance Xi’s goal of making the world China. But insofar as the intent was to get western elites to simultaneously support totalitarianism in their own countries while pretending to oppose it in China, then he’s certainly made his point.

*  *  *

Michael P Senger is an attorney and author of Snake Oil: How Xi Jinping Shut Down the World. Want to support my work? Get the book

Tyler Durden Mon, 12/05/2022 - 15:53

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