China Reduces Oil Products Tariffs

The volatility of the China-United States trade war may finally be slowing down.  Only a few days after agreeing to phase one of a new trade deal, China has announced a one-year tariff exemption on six chemical and oil derivatives, a positive sign that tensions are easing, and progress is being made.  These exemptions become effective on December 26, 2019 and are set to expire on December 25, 2020.

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China Crude Crunch

President Trump recently threatened to tax, nearly $300 billion dollars of Chinese products, by 10%. The already volatile oil market, seems to have room for some extra volatility. The volatility would largely cycle around China’s response to the U.S. tariffs. If China responds by purchasing oil from Iran, analysts speculate crude could rapidly approach $30 per barrel. Trump could impose the sanctions on the Chinese imports as soon as September 1st. Trump also threatened that he could raise the tariff, if no progress has been made towards a trade deal.

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Cant Stop, Wont Stop!

On May 2nd, the United States’ waiver period that granted eight nations to continue importing Iranian oil without penalty has ended.  The countries who granted extensions that ended are China, India, Turkey, Greece, Italy, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.  As of today, only Italy, Taiwan and Greece have halted their purchases of Iranian produced oil.  The United States now faces the dilemma of either granting further extensions to the waiver thus backing down from their threats, or risk creating further global tension by sanctioning the countries that continue to do business with Iran.

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Fuel Tax Spike in Ohio

On April 3 2019, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine signed a bill which will increase the gasoline and diesel fuel taxes for the state.  Starting on July 1st the state tax on diesel fuel will increase by 19 cents to a total of 47 cents per gallon.  The 67% increase will bump Ohio to the 6th highest diesel fuel tax rate behind only California, Pennsylvania, Washington, Indiana, and New Jersey.  The tax on gasoline will be increased by 10.5 cents per gallon to a total of 38.5 cents per gallon.  Ohio’s gasoline tax will remain lower than Pennsylvania and Indiana, but will be higher than its neighboring states, Kentucky, West Virginia and Michigan.

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Trade Talks Buoy Markets, but U.S. Production Growth Looms

The U.S. and China conclude their two-day trade talks in Beijing today with President Trump tweeting this morning “Talks with China are going very well!” This tweet and word that China had their top trade official, Liu He, attend the talks early this week have boosted equity and oil markets along with it as February WTI trades higher today to $49.42/barrel despite growing U.S. oil production.

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New Year’s Volatility Resolution?

Another commodity trading year is upon us and New Year’s resolutions across the western hemisphere are cloaked with purpose and resoluteness.  Many have vowed to exercise more, eat healthy and save money.  Even though only about 8 percent of these New Year’s resolution ambitionists persevere with their said goals, it is nonetheless a feeling of excitement and optimism of what might be.  Market participants in the energy sector are most likely seeking that same sensation of excitement for less volatility and more stable prices, more clarity in supply/demand across the globe, transparency with trade talks/tariffs, pellucidity with Iran sanctions and possibly a reverse course in actions to avoid a further global slowdown or even a recession.  If, however, the first 2 trading days of 2019 for the WTI futures contract for February delivery price action is any indication of what lies ahead, we are in for more of the same rollercoaster ride of uncertainty, high volatility and event risk price movements.  The first trading day of the year brought on an intraday range of $3.43 a barrel or a 7.18% intraday move.  Today, as of 12:30pm EST, we have already seen a 4.51% move or a $2.14 a barrel intraday trading range.

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