Refinery margin jump lends fresh support to crude oil
Crude oil, in a downtrend since June, is showing signs of selling fatigue with the technical outlook turning more price friendly while fresh fundamental developments are adding some support as well. Worries about an economic slowdown driven by China’s troubled handling of Covid outbreaks and its property sector problems as well as rapidly rising interest rates were the main drivers behind the selling since March across other commodity sectors before eventually also catching up with crude oil around the middle of June. Since then, the price of Brent has gone through a $28 dollar top to bottom correction.
While the macro-economic outlook is still challenged, recent developments within the oil market, so-called micro developments, have raised the risk of a rebound. The mentioned energy crisis in Europe continues to strengthen, the result being surging gas prices making fuel-based products increasingly attractive. This gas-to-fuel switch was specifically mentioned by the IEA in their latest update as the reason for raising their 2022 global oil demand growth forecast by 380k barrels per day to 2.1 million barrels per day. Since the report was published, the incentive to switch has increased even more, adding more upward pressure on refinery margins.
While pockets of demand weakness have emerged in recent months, we do not expect these to materially impact on our overall price-supportive outlook. Supply-side uncertainties remain too elevated to ignore, not least considering the soon-to-expire releases of crude oil from US Strategic Reserves and the EU embargo of Russian oil fast approaching. In addition, the previously mentioned increased demand for fuel-based products to replace expensive gas. With this in mind, we maintain our $95 to $115 range forecast for the third quarter.
Gold and silver struggle amid rising dollar and yields
Both metals, especially silver, were heading for a weekly loss after hawkish sounding comments from several FOMC members helped boost the dollar while sending US ten-year bond yields higher towards 3%. It was the lull in both that helped trigger the recovery in recent weeks, and with stock markets having rallied as well during the same time, the demand for gold has mostly been driven by momentum following speculators in the futures market.
The turnaround this past week has, as a result of speculators' positioning, been driven by the need to reduce bullish bets following a two-week buying spree which lifted the net futures long by 63k lots or 6.3 million ounces, the strongest pace of buying in six months. ETF holdings meanwhile have slumped to a six-month low, an indication that investors, for now, trust the FOMC’s ability to bring down inflation within a relatively short timeframe. An investor having doubts about this should maintain a long position as a hedge against a policy mistake.
Some investors may feel hard done by gold’s negative year-to-date performance in dollars, but taking into account it had to deal with the biggest jump in real yields since 2013 and a surging dollar, its performance, especially for non-dollar investors relative to the losses in bonds and stocks, remains acceptable. In other words, a hedge in gold against a policy mistake or other unforeseen geopolitical events has so far been almost cost free.