At the start of the week, we noted that crude prices struggled at the end of last week.

But Brent has bounced back, up almost $2/barrel this week, breaching $46/barrel helped by Gulf of Mexico shut-ins >1.5Mbd as Hurricane Laura passes through and now threatens refinery installations on the Gulf Coast.

Also assisting oil’s cause was another large crude draw in the EIA data that bullishly came in above seasonal five-year averages and complemented a significant gasoline inventory drop in the report.

Oil prices continue to trade within 48-hour ranges. And traders mull the Gulf hurricane impact amid the backdrop of improving demand after the EIA showed gasoline stocks declined to the lowest levels since December. At the same time, refineries are preparing for future product demand as run rates rose the highest since March.

The September education seasonality boost could increase payroll growth by as much as 500-750k, as many end-of-school-year layoffs took place in April rather than in June/July.

The assumption is that most teachers would opt for individual passenger vehicles’ privacy rather than public transportation to get to work, thereby increasing gasoline consumption, which could be playing a factor.

The hurricane threat has been, as usual, bullish for oil prices. The rally turns choppy and unsure when approaching five-month high levels. Suggesting traders remain nervous about taking the giant leap of faith and carving out a new higher range even as Laura, which is a beast of a storm, is expected to make landfall today.

Possibly profit taking is kicking in at critical levels as traders anticipate the gradual return of shut-in production could be a short-term negative for oil.

Traders remain concerned about the effect of rising US production more generally and the easing of OPEC+ cuts.

However, investors seem willing, for now, to look through the short-term negatives to remain focused on the positive medium-term fundamentals even beyond the storm surge induced bullish price action.

Oil markets analysis and insights from Stephen Innes, Chief Global Market Strategist at AxiCorp