The Conference Board’s latest reading on consumer confidence showed consumer expectations in June fell to their lowest level since 2013. The consumer confidence index for June fell to 98.7 from 103.2 in May, below expectations for a reading of 100. The report’s expectations index, which is based on consumers’ short-term outlook for income growth, the job market, and overall business conditions, fell to 66.4, its lowest reading since March 2013.
Normally at this time of year natural gas prices retreat and companies actually stash natural gas in storage for use durin hurricane outages in the fall and winter heating season. Not this year, however. Today natural gas prices in the U.S. hit a new 18-year high. At 11:20 a.m. New York time natural gas for June delivery climbed to $8.08 per million BTUs, up 8.12% on the morning
Russia’s Gazprom has told Poland’s government that it will stop supplying natural gas to Poland beginning on Wednesday after Poland refused to pay the supplier in roubles. Western sanctions have made it almost impossible for Russian companies to collect payments in dollars or euros. The decision to stop natural gas supply to Poland also followed on the country’s announcement on Tuesday that it was imposing sanctions on 50 entities and individuals including Russia’s biggest gas company. Polish ministers told a press conference that Poland had sufficient supplies of gas to weather the interruption
Today, April 21, reports from a number of different sources are pointing to lower oil production–which will mean higher oil prices. Even from current levels. And oil prices are significantly higher in the past three weeks. At 3:00 p.m. New York time today U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate traded at $103.44 a barrel, up 1.61% on the day. On April 11 West Texas Intermediate traded for just $94.29 a barrel.
Stocks rally on bad inflation news in the morning and then give it all back (on second thoughts) in the afternoon
As of noon New York time today, April 12, the Standard & Poor’s 500 was up 0.47% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average had gained 0.34%. The NASDAQ Composite was higher by 0.73% and the NASDAQ 100 had moved up by 0.67%. The small cap Russell 2000 had tacked on 1.49%. And then by the close stocks had given up all these gains and more. For the day, the S&P 500 closed down 0.34% and the Dow was off 0.26%. The NASDAQ Composite ended lower by 0.30% and the NASDAQ 100 was down 0.36%. The small cap Russell 2000 managed to close up 0.33% on the day.
A couple of days doesn’t a trend make, but the trading action in European wind stocks has caught my eye in the last week or so. Yesterday, Wednesday, March 30, wind turbine maker Vestas Wind Systems (VWDRY) gained 5.80%. That took the stock to a gain of 4.60% in the past week. The stock is down 2.26% for 2022 to date as of the March 30 close. Wind developer Orsted (DNNGY) was up 3.27% to bring its gain in the last week to 7.71%. The stock is down 3.88% for 2022 to date. With Europe looking to reduce its reliance on imports of Russian natural gas, increasing the region’s wind power capacity is one solution.
Don’t sell those oil stocks yet! Back at the beginning of the year, I anticipated that coming conflict between Russia and the Ukraine would drive up the price of oil, and the stocks I added to my portfoliohene stocks (COP, EQNR, LNG) have all been up big. But, I don’t think it’s time to sell yet. Why? Summer. Summer is the big driving season in the Northern Hemisphere, and right now (in what’s called the “shoulder season”) reserves of gasoline are supposed to be replenished in anticipation of summer. But that’s not happening due to Russia-Ukraine, and I think with summer we will see prices for oil spike even higher. That’s why I wouldn’t sell these stocks yet. (And that’s despite of the selling today, March 28, on more lockdowns in China)
The United States and Europe have reached an agreement to expand U.S. supplies of natural gas to Europe in an effort to reduce Europe’s dependence on Russian natural gas.
Details are bit vague. And wishful thinking is a big ingredient. The basis problem is that Russia supplies Europe with 150 billion cubic meters of natural gas every year via pipelines. U.S. and other sources can’t match increase production to that level and the infrastructure to get the gas to Europe simply doesn’t exist. Yet the goal has now been put on paper and the agreement promises that Europe will get at least 15 billion cubic meters of additional LNG supplies by the end of the year. Even though it is not clear where the natural gas welcome from or how ti will be delivered.
Oil rallied again today with U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate up 4.79% on the day to $114.79 a barrel and international benchmark Brent up 5.12% to $121.39 a barrel. So, natural, oil and gas equities stocks are up today. And the broader market is down. What else isn’t new?
Norwegian oil and natural gas producer Equinor (EQNR) said Wednesday, March 16, that adjusted permits from the Norwegian government will allow higher natural gas production over summer from the North Sea Troll and Oseberg fields as well as the Heidrun fields in the Norwegian Sea. With European countries looking for alternatives to Russian natural gas Equinor can basically sell all the gas it can produce even at higher prices. Natural gas futures closed at $4.81 per million BTUs today in New York. That’s up from $3.80 on January 20. That’s a 26.6% increase. I added Equinor to my Volatility Portfolio back on January 21 as hedge against a Russian invasion of Ukraine and wide-reaching sanctions. That position is up 23.14% as of the close on March 18.
I suppose there is something else that could add to the supply of bad news today on oil supply, but we’ve already got a full dance card At 2 P.m. in New York U.S. crude benchmark West Texas Intermediate traded up 5.07% to $121.55 a barrel; international benchmark Brent crude was up 6.24% to $125.48 a barrel. Where to start?
Getting the the timing right on oil prices (and oil stocks) is very tricky–so I’m making just a limited move tomorrow, Monday, February 28
On Saturday the European Union nations that control SWIFT, the dominant global network connecting banks, announced that they would expel some specific Russian banks from the network. The U.S., Canada, and the United Kingdom agreed with the move. The U.S. and its European allies left open the question of sanctions directly on Russia’s central bank.
The move to deny access to SWIFT means that the named Russian banks, and I’m not naming them because I haven’t been able to find a list, won’t be able to pay other banks or receive funds from other banks. They will not be able to transact business with international banks over the SWIFT network for their client businesses. I’d expect that out of an abundance of understandable caution, many Western banks will refuse to do business with Russian banks at all.