At midday on Friday, crude oil futures saw a slight upward trend, while refined product contracts had a mixed performance.
Crude Oil Contracts
Both West Texas Intermediate (WTI) and Brent crude futures had regained some ground after initial declines earlier in the day. However, the front-month crude contracts had smaller gains compared to the forward months, resulting in a widening market contango for the first quarter.
Following Thursday's volatile trading due to voluntary production cuts by OPEC+ members, crude contracts seemed to take a momentary pause on Friday morning.
Chicago Mercantile Exchange data for Thursday revealed that trading in WTI futures was one of the most active days so far this year.
The NYMEX January WTI contract bounced back from early declines, with a morning low of $75.27 per barrel, which was higher than Thursday's intraday low. The contract then made a run towards $77 before experiencing a slight dip. Shortly after noon ET, the January WTI contract showed an increase of 18 cents, reaching $76.14/bbl. Similarly, the February Brent contract followed a similar pattern, climbing 27 cents to $81.13/bbl.
Refined Product Futures
On Friday, the refined product futures switched to a January prompt month, and gasoline contracts experienced an upward trend during most of the morning. The NYMEX January RBOB contract was up by 1.23 cents, settling at $2.1881 per gallon just before midday. The contract reached a morning low of $2.1546/gal, which was over 5 cents higher than the mid-November low of $2.09/gal.
In U.S. spot markets, gasoline prices mostly followed the upward trajectory of futures. However, a wider discount to futures in the U.S. Gulf Coast offset some of the support from the NYMEX. Additionally, spot Los Angeles CARBOB weakened by around 3 cents/gal as its premium to futures narrowed.
The NYMEX January ULSD contract initially experienced a decrease of over 5 cents/gal but later reduced the decline to just 0.63 cents, settling at $2.7479 per gallon near midday. Cash ULSD markets closely tracked the movements of the futures.
Reporting by Denton Cinquegrana