Energy supply squeeze to delay decline in prices

Energy supply squeeze to delay decline in prices

Low stocks ahead of winter in the Northern Hemisphere have sent energy prices soaring. In turn, higher energy costs have also constrained the production of other commodities, most notably industrial metals. Energy supply is likely to remain tight for at least the remainder of this year, which is a key reason why we have pushed back our forecasts for a broad-based decline in commodity prices into 2022. By then, once demand for energy has cooled and stocks have been rebuilt, commodity prices are likely to be dragged lower as global economic growth continues to slow. We think that industry and construction activity in China are on the cusp of a particularly deep downturn, which will be a key factor weighing on the prices of industrial metals.
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Commodities Weekly Wrap

Deteriorating risk appetite adds to price headwinds

Despite falls in the prices of most other risky assets, including equities, commodities held up well this week. The prices of equities and commodities tracked each other relatively closely throughout the pandemic, but they have diverged sharply since the start of 2022, with commodities continuing to make gains. However, we expect commodity prices to ease back over the course of the year on the back of slower growth in economic activity and improved supply. Looking ahead to next week, the main event will be the Fed meeting on Tuesday. We expect the Fed to issue a more hawkish statement, which could well include an explicit hint that the first interest rate hike will come in March. This should weigh on commodity prices, although arguably it is already priced into market expectations. Fed tightening is one of the factors feeding into our forecasts, which we will flesh out in more detail in our forthcoming Commodities Overview, Energy and Metals Outlooks.

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Commodities Weekly Wrap

A good start to a bad year for commodity prices

Most commodity prices increased this week, with coal prices leading the pack on the back of Indonesia’s ban on coal exports this month. That said, we don’t see commodity prices rising for much longer. Indeed, Chinese imports of most raw materials fell back in December, with an especially sharp decline in imports of industrial metals. We think this is a sign of things to come in 2022. Weaker Chinese growth is one of the main reasons why we expect most prices to fall this year. Looking ahead, prices of energy and energy-intensive commodities could well be swayed by tensions between Russia and Ukraine and its allies. If tensions continue to build, this could lead to sharp swings in the price of European natural gas in particular. High gas prices in Europe have already led to the curbing of some energy-intensive metals production, including aluminium and zinc. On the data front, China will release Q4 GDP figures on Monday, which we expect to show weaker y/y growth. OPEC will also publish its December oil supply numbers on Tuesday. We expect another month of below-target output.

14 January 2022

Commodities Update

Prices to come off the boil in 2022

After a stellar run in 2020-21, we expect the prices of most commodities to ease back this year as economic activity slows, notably in China, and supply bottlenecks start to ease. Drop-In: Neil Shearing will host an online panel of our senior economists to answer your questions and update on macro and markets this Thursday, 13th January (11:00 ET/16:00 GMT). Register for the latest on everything from Omicron to the Fed to our key calls for 2022. Registration here.

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More from Commodities Team

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Energy price rally may spill over to other commodities

Most commodity prices increased this week. Optimism over electrification, which was a hot topic during LME Week, seemed to feed through into higher industrial metals prices. But the prices of energy commodities were the pick of the bunch. Brent crude rallied throughout the week and briefly breached $85 per barrel on Friday. OPEC’s monthly oil market report showed that output in September was still 390,000 barrels per day short of target. As prices rise, there are growing calls for higher OPEC production. But it seems doubtful that the group could raise output much faster, unless it abandons the current quota system. Meanwhile, a cold spell that has blown through China has compounded upward pressure on energy prices. That is in addition to the Chinese government allowing coal-fired power prices to rise by up to 20% from base levels from Friday. Looking to next week, China is set to publish its September activity and spending data and Q3 GDP on Monday. We suspect that China’s economy contracted in q/q terms. So far, commodity prices have largely shrugged off the slowdown in China’s economy. And we wouldn’t be that surprised if they continue to do so as currently elevated energy prices spill over to other commodity markets by substantially raising production costs of agriculturals and metals.

15 October 2021

Commodities Economics Chart Book

Gas & coal surge to support other commodity prices

Natural gas and coal prices soared in September. In turn, this has raised the output costs of industrial metals, most notably those which are especially energy intensive such as aluminium and steel. At the same time, reports suggest that some electricity providers are starting to substitute natural gas and coal for oil. While we expect natural gas and coal prices to ease back from here, they are likely to remain high by past standards well into next year. Nevertheless, we doubt this will be enough to prevent industrial metals prices from edging lower in tandem with weaker economic growth in China.

5 October 2021

Commodities Weekly Wrap

Energy prices surge as rally looks overdone

Commodity prices generally rose this week, but especially energy prices, which continued to surge on constrained supply, unseasonably high demand and low stocks. That said, we think the supply shortfalls will prove temporary and expect energy prices to come off the boil next year. By contrast, most metals prices were largely down this week, as Chinese PMI data indicated subdued demand. What’s more, those PMIs did not factor in recent power constraints. Weighing on all commodity prices this week was a strengthening dollar, with the US Dollar Index (DXY) hitting a one-year high. OPEC+ meets next Monday to review its output policy. We already forecast a large rise in OPEC+ oil production next year as the group winds down its earlier output cuts, but there have been growing calls for an even faster unwinding, which would weaken oil prices. Elsewhere, we expect stronger US non-farm payroll numbers for September (Friday), which would support commodity prices.

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