With plenty of relief in sight, its no wonder oil and wholesale gasoline is trading much lower at this hour. Perhaps I'll even give you the good news in the first couple sentences- I expect oil to close out this week under $80. Warmer weather is expected to infiltrate much of the South, Northeast, and Midwest by the weekend.
In addition to warmer temperatures, traders already expect tomorrow's Department of Energy report to show large draws in stockpiles as a result of the cold weather during the last week. While distillate inventories have fallen, they remain near 9% higher than a year ago. (READ MORE!)
With the refinery snags in the deep South last week, we may see refinery utilization at or near all-time lows. I'm expecting to see utilization numbers under 78% as refiners work to get back to production. We'll also soon start seeing refiners get rid of Winter-spec product and move towards product with a lower RVP rating in accordance with EPA mandates on pollution.
I expect distillate inventories fell, but not by as much as some analysts have called for. After everything is done, we'll see oil under $80 as our economy continues to be quite slow to recover. We're also seeing the dollar slightly stronger today, after giving up a good chunk of strength yesterday. Everything points to crude closing under $80 this week, but don't celebrate yet! Spring is on our doorstep, and there is likely to be *some* issues that will push crude higher, whether it be a stronger economy, refinery issue, or global political tension.