Oil up in Spread Play Vs. Gasoline, Sentiment Still Weak on Recession Worry

Commodities & Futures
© Reuters.  © Reuters.

By Barani Krishnan 

Investing.com – Crude prices settled up on Monday, gaining in spread trades against gasoline futures, which hit record lows on anticipation of demand destruction for fuel from the widening U.S. lockdown over Covid-19.

Analysts, however, said they expected U.S. crude to trade not too far from the key $ 20 support as the U.S. Senate remained in disagreement over how to proceed with a gigantic stimulus package aimed at providing a soft landing for the world’s No. 1 economy amid the pandemic.

The IMF, meanwhile, warned that the crisis could leave the world with a recession as bad as the 2008-09 financial crisis.

, the New York-traded benchmark for U.S. crude prices, settled up 73 cents, or 3.2%, at $ 23.36 per barrel.

WTI fell 29% last week for its biggest weekly loss since the week ended Jan. 13, 1991, when it fell 29.5%. 

, the London-traded global benchmark for crude, rose 5 cents, or 0.2%, to $ 27.03. Brent lost 25% last week.

“Make no mistakes about it — today’s rise had all to do with the gasoline-crude crack spread play, rather than any meaningful improvement in oil’s fundamentals,” said John Kilduff, founding partner at New York energy hedge fund Again Capital.

The front-month contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange tumbled 21% to close at 49.47 cents per gallon. It earlier hit a record low of 37.80 cents, or its lowest for a front-month contract of RBOB gasoline since futures of the energy product began trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange in 1984.

The record low in gasoline futures came as the average retail price for unleaded fuel at U.S. pump stations fell to $ 2.14 per gallon at the weekend from above $ 2.40 at the start of the year.

While crude survived a mauling on Monday, some are anticipating both WTI and Brent to break below their $ 20 support soon.

“The largest oil supply surplus the world has ever seen in a single quarter is about to hit the global market from April, creating an imbalance of around 10 million barrels per day (bpd),” analysts at Rystad Energy said in a note.

The consultancy estimated that, on average, 76% of the world’s oil storage capacity was already full and current average filling rates indicated by balances were unsustainable. 

“At the current storage filling rate, prices are destined to follow the same fate as they did in 1998, when Brent fell to an all-time low of less than $ 10 per barrel,” Paola Rodriguez-Masiu, senior oil markets analyst at Rystad Energy, added.

On Washington’s Capitol Hill, Republican senators on President Donald Trump’s side and rival Democrats sparred over what should go into a $ 2 trillion stimulus package due for a second vote. The two sides reached broad agreement last week to provide help for both businesses and families, as large swathes of the U.S. economy were shut to break the spread of the contagion.

“It’s not ‘world has shut down’ and it is not ‘world will maybe shut down’: it is happening and everyone says it will get worse before it gets better – from economists to doctors and epidemiologists,” said Igor Windisch of the IBW Daily Oil Brief. “And that will make the price of oil tank to the low $ 10s.”

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