The good news just keeps on rolling in, whether it’s further positive data from Pfizer/ BioNTech, the new Moderna vaccine, our very own Oxford University/ Astra Zeneca serum, which is showing very encouraging phase two test results, as well as Russia’s very own Sputnik V inoculation, that’s a great name! But as always there’s an understandable inclination for everybody to concentrate on these short-term success events, instead of getting to grips with longer term trends, and the big one of course is climate change.
Day after day, week after week, the dark news of the number of COVID-19 cases, hospital admissions, and sadly deaths, has again been accelerating, a second wave, with more lockdowns, more instability, and yet further potential consequences for global demand. And then out of the blue came the news that Pfizer and BioNTech’s test vaccine had a success rate of over 90% in cutting your chances of developing coronavirus symptoms. That’s in-line with measles and it’s streets ahead of the flu jab.
Back in 2017, Brexit’s Vote Leave boss Dominic Cummings was behind a £350 million lie, written on the side of a campaign bus, at best we might get away with calling it a mistruth. The clever strategists and media plotters had cunningly worked out that it didn’t matter whether the number was correct or not, it was more the fact that voters subliminally absorbed the basic argument, that money paid to the EU could instead be redirected to the National Health Service (NHS).
Doesn’t it feel as if everybody’s getting the jitters, and the poltergeists have certainly struck the oil market, as prices hit 5-month lows, released from their circa $40/ Bbl trap. There’s been yet more pessimistic data on COVID-19, as Western Europe heads into stricter lockdowns, led by France, Germany and now the U.K., while cases in the U.S. remain at record levels, and daily cases worldwide keep reaching new highs. Then add in the uncertainty over the U.S. Presidential election, although with only a few days to go it still appears to be a Biden victory.
Everybody’s eyes are now firmly set on what’s stirring-up in the U.S., and it’s not just Adele’s appearance on Saturday Night Live, we’ve also only got to wait just over a week to find out who won, Trump or Biden! It’s not that long ago, I believe it was February this year, when the polls were showing President Trump had just about maneuvered himself ahead, but only eight months later it’s a totally different story. Will the same reversal of destiny also apply for LPG export numbers out of the U.S.?
Same old, same old, day after day, week after week; Brent and WTI prices always seem to go up then they go down, usually ending up hovering around $40/ Bbl. Unfortunately, the only spikes appear to be in coronavirus numbers in Europe and the U.S., and by Friday night the mid-week gains in crude oil prices, mainly on the back of bullish EIA and API crude oil inventories, had been squeezed out of the market by yet more news of lockdowns in Europe’s major economies.
The sun might rise each day everywhere in Asia, but it appears to be shining far greater over China than anywhere else, and it looks like this could well continue into 2021. The LPG market simply can’t ignore the impact of world economic growth, whether it’s individual countries, regions or continents, and when there’s a growing gap between the U.S. and Asia, then the writing’s going to be clearly on the wall!
I know you must be thinking this has something to do with President Trump’s, or for that matter Prime Minister Johnson’s, current poll ratings, but I can assure you it’s not. What’s “Up” at the moment is the amount of propane being held in inventory across the U.S., and it’s already pushed above 100 million Bbls. So while the Trump vs Biden reality show was hitting the screens States side of the pond on Wednesday night, it would have been easy to say that the EIA stock report milestone, released a few hours earlier, might easily get overlooked.
If you are one of those players in the LPG market who still believes in changing seasons, and the belief that Winter demand in the northern hemisphere is part of a yearly pilgrimage, one that should have already begun, and ultimately becomes the knight in shining armour for all of those who have loaded-up with cargoes, then please read on. It will certainly make a lot more sense for you than it did for me.
It’s often said that markets take on certain characteristics one week, only to depart from their course the next, as if the factors determining the way the market is behaving disconnect, and go off in their separate ways. The line “Ships that pass in the night” comes from The Theologian’s Tale by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and it might be pertinent in more ways than one this week, looking at both the physical movement of VLGCs in Asia, and the driving force behind the direction of the LPG market, again you guessed it, the price of crude oil!