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Oil Prices Continue to Rise

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After a volatile morning, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude and Brent futures are on an upward trend, while refined product contracts show mixed results.

Seventh Consecutive Day of Gains for WTI

March WTI has seen an increase of approximately $1 per barrel, positioning the contract for its seventh consecutive day of gains. Both WTI and Brent are making strides towards potentially reaching new highs for the year 2024.

Rally Behind Rising Oil Prices

Trade sources are uncertain about the driving force behind this rally, especially considering that equities are pointing downwards due to a higher-than-anticipated inflation rate in January and a strengthening dollar. However, the prevailing trend of rising oil prices seems to have a firm hold on the market. March WTI has surpassed the $78 per barrel mark, while Brent has climbed above $83 per barrel. It is worth noting that although prices for both contracts have increased significantly, they remain about $1 per barrel lower than the current 2024 highs.

Current Trading Figures

Front-month WTI reached a high of $78.15 per barrel before slightly easing to trade at $77.90 per barrel, representing a gain of 98 cents. On the other hand, April Brent reached $83.04 per barrel before similarly retracing to $82.80 per barrel, registering a gain of 80 cents.

Mixed Performance for Refined Products

At around noon ET, refined products showed divergent movement. RBOB (Reformulated Blendstock for Oxygenate Blending) experienced an increase of several cents, while ULSD (Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel) declined nominally.

RBOB Futures Continue to Rise

Front-month RBOB futures are trading at $2.3994/gal, experiencing a 3.21cts increase and hovering around the $2.40/gal level. The March contract is outperforming April by being up 2.96cts at $2.6199/gal. The spread between the two contracts has remained steady at an average of about 22.5cts/gal since the beginning of February, with the midday spread standing at approximately 22cts.

Cash Markets Follow RBOB Futures

Most cash markets are following the upward trend of RBOB futures, with prices higher by about 5cts/gal. However, the Gulf Coast and Group 3 markets have discounts narrowing against futures.

Stability in ULSD Contract

The ULSD contract has experienced relative stability after briefly slipping into negative territory within the last hour. It is currently trading at flat levels.

Uncertainty around ULSD Increase

Similar to the ongoing crude oil rally, market watchers are struggling to explain the unusual behavior of ULSD prices. Despite being up around 4.5cts/gal in the morning, ULSD prices have remained relatively unchanged. One possible contributing factor could be the significant decrease in natural gas futures, with the March contract trading below $1.70/mmbtu. Another factor could be the expected warming trend in Europe, which might lead to a decrease in demand for diesel due to a softening heating oil/gasoil (HOGO) spread.

At midday, March ULSD stood at $2.9249/gal, showing a slight half-cent increase, while the April contract was up just over a penny at $2.8486/gal.


Introduction

Key Details

Reporting

Denton Cinquegrana

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Editing

Steve Cronin

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