Financial headlines just can’t get enough of crude oil as the commodity keeps tossing and turning due to several market factors. Here are the reports and events you should keep close tabs on if you’re trading Black Crack or the positively-correlated Canadian dollar.
EIA Weekly Petroleum Status Report
The Energy Information Administration releases its U.S. crude oil stockpiles figure, which is contained in the Weekly Petroleum Status Report. This serves as a gauge of supply and demand for the commodity.
If you had been paying attention in your Economics 101 class instead of playing with your fidget spinner, you’d probably remember a little something called the Law of Supply and Demand.
Simply put, this states that an increase in supply tends to put downward pressure on prices while an increase in demand lifts prices. Conversely, a decrease in supply boost price levels while a decrease in demand drags ’em down.
Number-crunchers also have a consensus figure available before the actual release to give market junkies an idea of how the actual reading might turn out. This benchmark can also have an impact on price action in that a larger than expected increase or a lower than expected draw in stockpiles could spur oversupply concerns while a lower than expected increase or a larger than expected reduction could signal healthy demand.
API Weekly Statistical Bulletin
If you want to get a bit of an edge ahead of the official EIA report, you should also keep tabs on the Weekly Statistical Bulletin from the American Petroleum Institute (API) released much earlier in the week.
In particular, the API collects data on production, imports, and inventories of the four major petroleum products (motor gasoline, kerosene jet fuel, distillate fuel oil, and residual fuel oil) that comprises more than 80% of total refinery production.
This report also contains helpful figures on production, imports, and inventories, as well as imports and inventories of unfinished oils, crude oil imports and production, and refinery input and capacity data if you want to go in-depth on energy market trends.
Just like the EIA, the API prints these figures on a weekly basis, usually on a Tuesday, thereby providing a more or less reliable preview of the official figures. Keep in mind that because it is released a few days ahead, the API figure can also act as a benchmark for the EIA report. Although Thomson Reuters subscribers get first dibs on the figures, third-party news sources share the information almost instantly.
Baker Hughes oil rig counts
Being one of the world’s largest oil field services companies, Baker Hughes is able to keep track of the number of rigs operating in the U.S. and Canada. The change in the number of oil rigs is considered a leading indicator of supply as producers often scale up drilling operations to keep up with rising demand or to profit from increasing prices.
However, rising oil rig counts also tends to keep a lid on crude oil price, especially if the increase is large enough to warrant oversupply concerns. The number is usually released at the end of the week and can be found on the Baker Hughes Rig Count app. (Why yes, there’s an app for that!)
OPEC meetings & updates
Last but most certainly not least are updates from the crude oil mafia itself. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) also provides a regular update of production, inventories, and exports from their side of the world, and these figures are printed on a monthly basis.
Note that the OPEC has imposed a production cap on majority of its member nations, except for Libya and Nigeria, and has even extended this output deal for a few more months in order to hopefully keep crude oil prices afloat.
While this sounds like a good plan in theory, compliance among member nations has been an issue these days. Apart from that, the rift with Qatar and surging production among exempted nations has rendered the output deal less effective. Keep an eye out for changes in production levels from one month to another, export levels, and member compliance.
As with most top-tier economic reports, market expectations and forecasts from analysts also tend to influence price action ahead of the actual release. For instance, energy consultant firms like Petro-Logistics share their estimates for the OPEC figures based on tanker shipments and commentary from industry experts tend to push crude oil prices around as well.
More importantly, any big decisions or even hints of action from the OPEC itself also have a strong say on price levels. That’s why interviews from energy ministers and even non-official meetings tend to get a lot of market attention.