Oil Futures Move Mixed After Congress Certifies Biden Win

Brian L Milne
By  Brian L. Milne , DTN Refined Fuels Editor

CRANBURY, N.J. (DTN) -- Nearest delivered oil futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange and Brent futures on the Intercontinental Exchange were shallowly mixed with the crude contracts advancing to fresh highs after Congress certified Joe Biden as the 46th president of the United States early Thursday after delays caused by a mob that broke into the U.S. Capitol forcing lawmakers to be evacuated, with U.S. President Donald Trump indicating after the certification that there would be an orderly transition of power.

Four people died in the capitol Wednesday, with a woman shot inside the rotunda later dying, a dark moment for the United States. Trump's recognition that he will leave office later this month appears to have brought calm following a tumultuous 2020 that bled into 2021.

The events at the Capitol came as two Democrats appeared to have won the U.S. Senate runoff elections in Georgia, splitting the Senate 50/50 with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris casting a vote in the event of a tie, prompting Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer on Wednesday to say passing $2,000 stimulus checks would be the first priority of the Senate following inauguration on Jan. 20.

News of increased stimulus follows a 123,000 decline in private-sector employment in December, according to payroll processor ADP Wednesday morning, with the Labor Department at 8:30 a.m. ET to release initial unemployment claims filing for the week ended Jan. 2 that are expected to show an increase of more than 10,000 to 800,000. The Labor Department Friday morning releases its nonfarm payroll report that's expected to show a modest 68,000 increase in new jobs for December.

Likely to reflect the slowdown, U.S. Institute of Supply Management will release their Services Index Thursday morning, which has slipped from 55.9 in November to 54.6 in December. It would still mark the seventh consecutive month of growth but follows declines in October and November, suggesting increasing COVID-19 infections over the period dampened services sector activity, which typically includes closer contact among individuals. ADP in their December employment report reported 58,000 job losses in the leisure and hospitality sector.

In early trading, NYMEX February West Texas Intermediate futures were trading near $50.85 per barrel (bbl), with the ICE March contract little changed near $54.20 bbl. NYMEX February ULSD futures were up nearly 1cts near $1.5375 gallon, while the February RBOB contract was flat at $1.4785 gallon.

Brian L. Milne can be reached at brian.milne@dtn.com

Brian Milne