Commodities

The Commodities Feed: Energy starts 2024 on a softer note | Article

The oil market started the first trading day of 2024 on a softer note with ICE Brent settling almost 1.5% lower yesterday. Energy markets were unable to escape the broader pressure seen on risk assets with equity markets also weaker. The weakness in oil comes despite a ratcheting up in tensions in the Middle East. Iran has sent a warship to the Red Sea after the US sunk several Houthi boats in the region, following a number of attacks on commercial ships by the Houthis. While the geopolitical situation is a concern for the oil market, a fairly comfortable oil balance over the first half of 2024 does help to ease some of these worries.

OPEC+ will hold a Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee meeting in early February, according to Bloomberg. The group will be keen to discuss the state of the oil market, particularly given the price action seen following the announcement of deeper cuts last month from a handful of members. However, given the scale of cuts we are already seeing, it will be increasingly difficult for the group to cut more if needed over the course of 2024. Already, the last few rounds of cuts have been driven by voluntary reductions from individual members rather than group wide cuts – a sign that it is becoming more difficult to get all members on board to cut.

European gas prices have come under significant pressure, with TTF settling 5.5% lower yesterday and at its lowest levels since August. This weakness comes despite forecasts for colder weather later in the week. However, storage remains very comfortable with it a little more than 86% full, which is above the 83.5% seen at the same stage last year. In the absence of any supply shocks or demand surge, it is looking likely that European storage will finish the 2023/24 heating season around 50% full, which suggests limited upside for prices.

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