Commodities

Energy

Downward pressure on prices is mounting

Commodity prices held up well this week, despite the hawkish tone of the Federal Reserve and continued worries over a messy default by Evergrande, the Chinese property developer. Notably, European natural gas and Asian LNG prices continued to climb, powered by ongoing supply disruptions and unseasonably strong demand. Oil prices also made gains amid concerns that OPEC members are struggling to hit collective production targets which, if sustained, poses an upside risk to oil prices. Looking towards next week, Chinese PMI data are scheduled for release on Thursday/Friday. We expect a continued loss of momentum in industrial activity, which would be negative for commodity prices, especially industrial metals. Investors will also be closely watching developments around Evergrande. We expect a managed restructuring of the company, which should limit the negative impact on China’s metals demand.

24 September 2021

Three potential catalysts for lower European gas prices

A mild winter in the Northern Hemisphere, a substitution of gas for other fuels in electricity generation, and/or a rise in supply via Nord Stream 2 could all send European gas prices lower in the months ahead. But even if prices start to fall back soon, we still think they will remain elevated until at least Q2 2022.

24 September 2021

US Weekly Petroleum Status Report

US crude stocks have continued to fall as refinery activity has so far recovered faster than crude output following Hurricane Ida. And with demand already broadly back to pre-pandemic levels, US crude stocks are likely to fall further in the weeks ahead, which should support oil prices.

Drop-In: Evergrande – What are the risks to China and the world? Chief Asia Economist Mark Williams and Senior China Economist Julian Evans-Pritchard will be joined by Senior Markets Economist Oliver Jones to take your questions about the Evergrande situation. They’ll be covering the implications of collapse for China’s financial system and growth outlook, and assessing the global markets fallout. Register here for the 0900 BST/1600 HKT session on Thursday, 23rd September.

22 September 2021
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Japan’s LNG shielded from Europe price spike for now

Japan’s reliance on fixed, long-term contracts for its natural gas supply should limit the impact on consumers of the recent surge in gas spot prices currently being felt most acutely across parts of Europe.

Surge in gas prices adds to near term price pressure

In this Update, we answer six key questions about the surge in natural gas prices. The key point is that it will keep inflation in DMs and many EMs above central bank targets for a few months longer than we had previously assumed. Governments are already preparing to limit the economic damage and central banks are likely to look through this temporary spike in inflation. But this comes at a time when a host of shortages are already pushing up prices and adds to the upside risks to our inflation and interest rate forecasts.

21 September 2021

Switzerland and Nordics to sidestep gas price woes

The low use of gas, and a reliance on nuclear and renewables for electricity generation, means that Switzerland and the Nordics are less exposed to the recent surge in gas prices than other parts of Europe – particularly Spain.

Rising gas prices will hit Spain hardest

The upward pressure on euro-zone headline inflation from the surge in natural gas prices will not be felt evenly throughout the region, with Spain looking most vulnerable. Governments are stepping in to cushion the blow, but higher energy bills are a downside risk to the euro-zone’s consumer recovery.

Three key developments to keep an eye on

Most commodity prices ground higher this week. And, stepping back, we think events this week highlight three key themes to watch in the months ahead. First, natural gas prices show no sign of easing back, and are likely to remain high until early next year. Prices continued to surge this week on the back of ongoing supply disruptions and unseasonably strong demand in Asia. And, even if both these tailwinds fade, a rebuilding of stocks from their current lows should continue to support prices. Second, the growing divergence between industrial metals prices and underlying demand could set the stage for a sharp correction before the year is out. Despite the weaker-than-expected activity data out of China, industrial metals prices were a mixed bag this week. Nonetheless, they still remain close to multi-year highs. And finally, calls for OPEC+ to fully unwind its output cut before the end of next year (as is currently planned) look set to grow louder. The Biden Administration has already called for this and China has announced crude sales from its strategic reserve in an apparent bid to stem the rise in prices. The main event for commodity markets next week will be the Fed’s FOMC meeting (Tuesday/Wednesday). While we expect the Fed will fall short of formally announcing tapering QE, they may prepare the ground for it at the meeting. A repeat of the June meeting’s hawkish surprise could set the tone and drive a dollar rally, which would weigh on the prices of all commodities but particularly on some of the precious metals, which have tracked the dollar closely this year.

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