Oil: Contango Eases

Tuesday WTI gains, which helped the price to close above $25, set the stage for modest Wednesday rally. While the market ponders over next leg of the rally, price difference between the December and June WTI futures continued to narrow:

Declining market contango indicates several effects are in play:

  • Abating concerns related to the storage and transportation of WTI, including in Cushing (more on that below);
  • Oil funds completing the shift from near-term to more distant contracts (change in USO positions at the end of April as an example);
  • Easing supply pressure thanks to output cuts from OPEC+ deal, market-driven output cuts in the US and voluntary cuts from some Middle East countries like Saudi Arabia and UAE.
  • Slow recovery in demand for near-term oil supplies.

The American Petroleum Institute said yesterday that oil reserves rose by 7.5 million barrels, but most interestingly, Cushing inventories, according to the agency’s estimates, fell by 2.26 million barrels. If the EIA confirms this estimate, it will be the first inventory reduction since February. Negative change in Cushing inventories basically means that less oil arrives there than taken from it. It reinforces our view that production declines and demand grows in the US. In addition, this limits pressure on prices based on concerns that the June WTI contract may repeat the story of the May contract with the approach of expiration date.

As for EIA’s short-term energy outlook report, the agency has revised down its forecast for US oil output. The agency expects that the average production for 2020 will decline by another 70 thousand barrels to 11.69 million barrels (-540 thousand bpd in annual terms). The agency also predicts a decline in production of almost 800 thousand b/d in 2021.

XAUUSD: risks are shifted to the downside

In gold, we observe some stabilization near $ 1,700 per troy ounce; technically, recent price action on 4H timeframe forms triangle, which is usually a sign of breakout:

There is strong evidence that Gold pricing depends a lot on inflation expectations in the US:

This chart suggests some “hyperinflation fears” may be priced in Gold which are subject to revision with the latest inflation data.

Core inflation in the US in April fell by 0.4% MoM for the first time in 38 years, showed the report on Tuesday. Firstly, this is evidence of a severe drop in consumption, which tends to regain losses slowly. Secondly, this indirectly indicates that firms have accumulated record inventories and may be soon forced to make discounts, which is another factor of pressure on consumer prices. In my opinion, with the advent of clear deflationary trend in the US, gold loses the main growth factor. Soon we can see a “sell-off” of hyperinflation fears from the Fed’s policies and fiscal stimulus, as, in fact, evidence grows that they won’t materialize soon.

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