Crude prices tentatively pared gains after the EIA crude oil inventory report posted a smaller-than-expected headline draw, while gasoline demand plummeted the most since April 2020. The EIA report was a mixed bag that didn’t have anything to change the tight outlook for the oil market.
A headline draw of 2.14 million barrels last week was the sixth consecutive decline, but the focus was on big builds with gasoline and distillate inventories, which were largely due to seasonal factors. Both crude and gasoline demand are lower but still headed in the right direction.
Energy traders are growing optimistic that once the omicron wave passes, a massive pickup in air travel will keep supporting the crude demand outlook. Air travel demand has improved in the US, but the key pickup in demand will come from Europe at the end of the first quarter.
Gold eyes FOMC minutes
Gold prices are higher as the dollar softens now that early Fed rate hikes have been mostly priced in. A very good sign for bullion investors is that gold is holding up nicely despite the move with Treasury yields. As investors look at the year ahead, gold should benefit from both growing geopolitical risks (Russia/Ukraine, Turkey, and North Korea) and as a weaker dollar emerges from the outperformance with European and Asian equities.
Gold prices are comfortably above key support levels that include the 50- and 200-day SMAs along with the psychological USD 1800 level. Gold should hold remain fairly stable leading up to the nonfarm payroll report. The Fed’s minutes should be a non-event and confirm their December hawkish pivot, but it could be a market-moving event if they address the balance sheet. Any significant comments on addressing how they will go about balance sheet reduction could trigger a market-moving reaction which could tentatively take away the luster from gold.
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