BRENT’s six-month calendar spread has collapsed to a backwardation of just 67 cents per barrel (54th percentile for all trading days since 1990) from $8 (98th percentile) at the start of November. Month-to-month spreads are flat through April 2023. Traders anticipate crude supplies will remain comfortable through the first few months of next year because: (a) the EU/G7 price cap on Russia’s exports was set at a relatively high level; (b) policymakers have signalled a relaxed approach to enforcement (c) refiners have boosted purchases and inventories ahead of the price cap’s introduction; and (d) the slowing global economy is expected to dampen oil consumption:
U.S. OIL PRODUCERS increased the number of rigs drilling for oil to 622 on November 10 up from 610 two weeks earlier. Drilling increased significantly for the first time since July. The number of active rigs has rebounded from a pandemic low of just 172 in August 2020 and is nearing the pre-pandemic level of 683 in early March 2020.
But the resumption has been much slower than after the two previous downturns. The rig count has risen by a total of +450 (+3.8 per week) over the 117 weeks since August 2020 compared with an increase of +544 (+4.6 per week) at the same point after the last cyclical low in 2016 and +885 (+7.6 per week) after the cyclical low in 2009:
U.S. INTEREST RATE traders expect the central bank to boost its target federal funds rate to 4.25-4.50% by April 2023 up from 2.25-2.50% at present as officials try to bring inflation back towards their long term target. Inflation has proved faster and more persistent than anticipated implying higher interest rates and a greater probability of a hard-landing for the economy:
U.S. SERVICES prices increased at an annualised rate of +7.7% in the three months to August. Services inflation is a proxy for underlying price pressures in the economy because services account for more than 60% of consumer spending and are labour-intensive rather than energy or commodity-intensive. Service sector inflation has decelerated from a peak of +9.9% in the three months to June but remains more than three times faster than the central bank’s long-term target of a little over 2% per year:
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