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General news

  • The US government has criticised Beijing's imposition of tariffs of up to 25% on imports of 128 US products including frozen pork, nuts, fresh and dried fruit, ginseng and wine. The move triggered US stocks to fall sharply amid trade war fears.
  • The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has confirmed that the emissions standards for cars and trucks in the US are to be lowered. Although the details of the relaxed regulations have not yet been confirmed, EPA has said they will apply to cars released between 2022-2025.

Agriculture

  • As China continues to try and reduce its huge corn stockpile which reached 250m tonnes last year, soybean farmers in the country's northeastern provinces are set to get higher subsidies than corn producers. The subsidies are a part of the 5-year plan issued by Beijing in 2016 to try and get corn farmers to rotate their corn plantings with other crops to try and help rebalance the country's grain stocks.
  • Although the 15% tariffs imposed by China on imports of ethanol from the US is good news for domestic corn producers, experts are warning that Chinese ethanol producers will eventually have to return to foreign markets to ensure that government targets for the use of the fuel are met. The Chinese government has set a target of 10% ethanol content in all gasoline nationwide by 2020 and although China currently has plenty of corn, the 45m tonnes of corn needed to produce the 15m tonnes pa of ethanol that will be needed from 2020 means that foreign dependency will return.

Metals

  • Copper prices have hit a one-week high despite concerns about the increasing trade tensions between China and the US. The announcement of China's tariffs on $3bn of US imports were not as aggressive as some investors had anticipated, suggesting that the impact on China's metal imports is likely to be less drastic as feared. The benchmark copper contract on the LME for 3-month delivery is currently at $6,720 a tonne.

Energy - UK 

  • According to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the UK's use of coal in its generation mix fell to a record low of 6.7% last year. The data from BEIS also shows that clean fuels (bioenergy, wind, solar and hydro) now produce nearly ten times as much of the UK's power as coal does.
  • The UK government has announced that £6bn will be made available to drive innovation in household energy efficiency.

Energy - International

Oil

  • Russia's Energy Minister Alexander Novak has confirmed that Russia is in talks with Saudi Arabia about the formation of an OPEC, non-OPEC alliance once the current output curbs expire. Novak's comments further support Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's statement that Saudi Arabia and Russia were looking at agreeing on a 10-20 year agreement to work together to restrict oil production in an effort to ensure prices remain supported. 

Other

  • The Netherlands have announced that gas production at the Groningen field will be pased out by 2030. The Groningen field was once Europe's largest but the Dutch government has decided it will phase out production over the next 12 years as part of its efforts to reduce the danger caused by small but damaging earthquakes
  • Based on the latest data from the European Commission, EU carbon market emissions rose for the first time in 7 years in 2017. The increase came as a result of the European economy growing 2.5% last year which resulted in increased activity leading to higher emissions.