Ethanol prices on a volatile pattern

Ethanol Report
By Rick Kment | April 16, 2013

April 1—Sharp losses and gains have developed through the ethanol complex over the past couple of weeks. What started out as renewed support from falling ethanol inventory levels and expected strength in gasoline and ethanol demand through the summer quickly took a major hit at the end of March. 

Through the first half of March, aggressive buyer support started to develop in the ethanol market. This surrounded the movement higher in gasoline price levels as expectations of strong spring and summer driving demand seemed to indicate renewed interest in all segments of the energy complex. Traders quickly jumped on the upward moving market, pushing ethanol prices 20 cents higher despite strong corn price levels. The strength in the ethanol market was also fueled by falling ethanol stocks as the higher cost of production has limited production levels. Stocks have moved back to levels not seen since December 2011. 

But the latter half of March has been marred by uncertainty of gasoline demand as concerns of economic stability in Europe took over the headlines. The USDA quarterly stocks report was also released on the last trading day of March, indicating increased stock levels and quickly pushed corn futures down its daily limit. Ethanol futures quickly reverted from following the gasoline market, back to the normal coat tail relationship with corn. This shift accounted for a one-day, 13-cent-per-gallon loss in ethanol prices. Following a month of instability, the ethanol market remains extremely unstable.