Stephen Schork is the Founder and Editor of The Schork Report, a daily subscription newsletter providing comprehensive technical and fundamental daily views of the energy cash and financial markets. Published since April 2005, The Schork Report is geared towards professionals in the global energy arena looking to improve economic performance while managing risk. Further information is available at www.EnergyMarketIntelligence.com.
Schork was a floor trader (Local) in the New York Mercantile Exchange’s energy complex and has more than 18 years experience in physical commodity and derivatives trading, risk systems modeling and structured commodity finance.
A recognized expert in the energy sector, Schork is a regular guest on CNBC and Bloomberg Television. He is also frequently quoted in The Wall Street Journal, Business Week, Reuters, the Associated Press, Platts, The Street.com and CNNMoney.com.
Welcome Back, Carter. Confidence amongst consumers in the U.S. plunged in August to the lowest level since the dying days of the Carter Administration. The University of Michigan’s preliminary index of consumer sentiment dropped by nearly 9 points, or 14% to 54.9.
We are now halfway through the second phase, i.e., the dog days phase, of the summer natural gas refill-season in the U.S. As noted last month in The Schork Report, this phase of the season produces the lowest injections of the cycle as peak a/c demand siphons off molecules through July and August.
Despite a stronger dollar and weak equities, front month WTI jumped 4.53%, the highest daily gain since May 9th and, with a settle of 82.89, a definitive settle above the 80.00 barrier.
The general market consensus is that recent weakness has not been due to an imbalance in supply, but rather weaker demand forecasts.
Now let’s get this straight… in reaction to the downgrade of the creditworthiness of the U.S. by Standard & Poor’s, global equity markets tanked, gold surged to a record, oil sank and U.S. debt – the assets directly affected by S&P’s downgrade — rallied. Confused? The markets certainly are.
On Friday, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) showed a better than expected increase in employment. Nonfarm jobs rose by 117,000 in July and the unemployment rate fell by 10 bps to 9.1%. The BLS also upped the estimates for May and April by 112% (!) to 53,000 and by 156% (!!) to 46,000, respectively.
Which technical indicator did crude oil not break yesterday? We closed the Egypt/Libya contagion gap from February, the Relative Strength Index (RSI) has now crossed into over-sold territory of 18.33 and the Erlanger Trend Direction crossed from a red bar above the center line (a pull-back) to a red bar below the center line (a downtrend).
Domestic GDP growth for Q2 fell well below expectations. Is the recovery – already slow – grinding to a halt? Or was the drop in dollar terms due simply to a sharp sell-off in energy prices? While we would love to say the latter, the truth lies in parts of both.
Over the last month implied volatility in the oil market, as measured by the CBOE’s oil volatility index (OVX), had trended steadily lower. The reduction in the costs of uncertainty, as it were, is a function of the one-sidedness of the bullish trend over this period.
Another clear sign that attempts by oil-consuming nations to manufacture lower prices (without addressing long-standing structural constraints in physical cost drivers) has failed miserably.