Energy Stock Trader: Friday Outlook

by: Steve Zachritz

Oil failure day. What a disappointment. At $57.49 April crude is resting on my target. Next stop $55. - see further drivers of the decline in the Snafu Watch below.

Stocks followed the market around until oil did a swan dive into the close.

RBOB fell nearly a nickel on profit taking and a lack of hysteria. It’s funny how everyone expects gasoline and oil to rise after it’s been rising, and now call for a fall the minute it starts dropping.

Natural Gas Storage Review -- 115 Bcf, in-line with Street estimates (way above my 90).

  • April Gas fell $0.12 on the news to $6.96.
  • We have 1,516 Bcf in storage. An average March will get you to 1,380ish Bcf at the end of the month, vs. 5 year average trough storage of 1,025 Bcf.
  • There was no 12 Bcf adjustment to last week’s number. I got into it with the EIA. We were apples to oranges, and I think their methodology is less than perfect for comparing YoY storage -- but whatever. I may or may not post a technical piece over the weekend. I’m probably the only one that cares at this point.

Next stop $6.50 -- I think we bottom between there and $6. It’ll be interesting to see what happened to the net short position when the CFTC data is released at 3:30 (or so) EST today. Recall that last week we dove back into net negative territory.

OPEC Watch -- slam bam see you in September. I’m not even sure the ministers sat down. No action taken in adjusting production quotas. Seems they’re thinking everything is slowing down too. In fact, given the “well supplied” state of the oil markets, their unwillingness to increase volumes at this time speaks volumes about their confidence in the rising demand forecasts for 2007 and the ability of the markets to absorb more barrels anytime soon (well, at least through September).

Snafu Watch -- thanks to El Diablo for his continued quest for the truth. See the Snafu page for details, but here are the highlights:

  • Imperial Oil’s Toronto refinery is back up on schedule with prior guidance. This is one of those three legs of the stool holding up gasoline (although not in the U.S., it’s close enough that it was making that region tight)
  • regenerator restart at a Valero Energy Corp. (NYSE:VLO) Houston refinery
  • Shell has regained access to a large leak in a Nigerian well
  • Nigeria’s oil minister says he thinks all shut in production could be back on line by the end of the year. I’ll believe that when I’m there, on the ground, seeing it all flow.

All of these combined should pressure gasoline and oil prices today.

Options Expiration Day -- expiry combined with March Madness should lead to a very dull day after the first few hours. No day trades today, I promise. Too much good roundball on the tube.

Everybody have a safe trading day and a great weekend!