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General news

  • North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) talks have been delayed as a result of elections in Mexico, Canada and the US which threaten to complicate efforts to agree a deal. The talks were meant to be concluded at the end of last year but now look set to drag well into 2018.
  • The Faraday Institution, established by the UK Government as part of its £246m investment in battery technology, is to provide £42m to research projects focused on battery storage challenges faced by the EV industry. These challenges include extending battery life, battery system modelling and recycling and reuse.
  • Cape Town continues to struggle to stave off Day Zero, the day that the city will “run out of water”. The severe drought conditions has forced the city to limit water consumption to 50 litres per person per day, with the expectation that Day Zero could happen as soon as April 12th.

Agriculture

  • The EU is coming to the end of an extended sugar beet campaign which is expected to result in a sharp increase in output in the first season since quotas were scrapped.
    • The increase in output is expected despite weather, which hampered harvesting in some areas.
    • The EU’s sugar market was liberalised just last October enabling farmers to plant as much beet as they wanted following over ten years of strict output quotas and export limits.
    • The result of this is however leading to concerns of a global 2017/18 sugar supply glut, which is putting prices under pressure.
  • White sugar prices for March delivery on ICE dropped to their lowest level in more than 2 years to $352 a tonne as a result of supply pressures.
  • There has been some gradual erosion of grain prices in the UK as the GBP has continued to strengthen against both the USD and the EUR. This erosion in price does not mean that the UK is less competitive in the exporting markets, but instead ensures that the UK does not bring in too many imports.
  • French wheat prices are expected to be supported by the recent EU imposed duties on Argentinian corn. The duties mean that French wheat becomes a preferred option for animal feed rations compared to both domestic and imported corn, increasing demand for French wheat, which has fallen victim to low demand from the export market as a result of cheaper Argentinian supplies being favoured by North Africa.

Metals

  • Copper prices have sunk to a one month low below $7,000 a tonne following a surge in inventory levels and as Chinese traders squared positions ahead of the New Year holiday period. Data released on Monday shows that Chinese refined copper output rose 16.7% year-on-year to a record 865,000 tonnes last month.
  • Thanks to last year’s higher metals prices, US miner Freeport-McMoRan has posted its highest quarterly profits since 2014. Freeport is moving to secure a deal with the Indonesian Government to enable it to continue producing copper and gold from its Grasberg mine, the world’s second biggest copper mine.

Energy - UK 

UK Energy Markets*
Contract Expiry Month EoD Price MoM Change YoY Change Monthly Moving Average 3-Month Moving Average Monthly Volatility
Baseload - Front Month Feb-18 49.05 -4.79 -0.02 51.74 54.06 6.10%
Baseload - Front Quarter Jun-18 43.59 -2.07 2.86 45.18 45.23 2.45%
Baseload - Front Season Sep-18 43.15 -1.45 3.17 44.42 44.27 2.49%
Peakload - Front Month Feb-18 53.75 -5.73 -2.98 56.89 60.39 5.41%
Peakload - Front Quarter Jun-18 46.61 -2.57 2.81 48.37 48.67 2.39%
Peakload - Front Season Sep-18 46.52 -1.57 2.49 47.83 47.74 2.17%
NBP - Front Month Feb-18 49.14 -7.60 -2.89 52.79 55.67 9.18%
NBP - Front Quarter Jun-18 42.36 -3.85 -1.38 44.98 45.26 4.69%
NBP - Front Season Sep-18 41.91 -3.22 -0.93 44.28 44.33 4.40%
  • The challenge to Ofgem’s decision to cut TRIAD payments has been refused an injunction. The injunction was aimed to prevent the decision from coming into effect from April this year. If the cut comes into effect, it is increasingly likely that this TRIAD season could be the last winter season that generators are able to benefit from this payment.

  • A new report from the EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee warns that Brexit puts the UK's trade in energy with the EU at risk.

    • The EU currently supplies 12% of the UK's gas, and 5% of the UK's electricity needs.

    • The sub-committee highlighted that post-Brexit, UK-EU energy trading may end up being less efficient and could lead to higher bills and even supply shortages.

Energy - International

Oil

  • Brent traded at above $71 for the first time in 3 years last week on the back of a weaker USD, which dipped to a 3-year low following the US Treasury secretary’s backing of the weaker USD trend which he views as an opportunity for US trade.
  • The US government is to provide a share of $30m for six unconventional oil and gas recovery projects in an effort to improve understanding of reservoir behaviour and optimal well completion strategies.
  • Saudi Arabia’s energy minister has insisted that his country’s oil alliance with Russia is a long-term one which he hopes will last for generations to come. Khalid al Falih stressed the importance of Russia and Saudi Arabia’s long term cooperation to ensure that both country’s long term interests are preserved, despite recent indications that the market is tightening.

Other

  • According to Russia’s nuclear energy body Rosatom, Russian nuclear energy production increased by as much as 18.9% last year, reaching 203bn kWh. The increase contrasts with UK and France’s pledge to work together on civil nuclear decommissioning.
  • Trump’s crack down on what he terms as unfair competition to US firms is being highlighted in the solar panel industry. Trump’s “America First” approach to trade has resulted in a 30% tariff being applied to imported solar panels, the majority of which come from China, in an effort to help protect domestic solar panel producers from cheaper imports.
  • According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) global corporations are signing record volumes of power purchase agreements (PPAs) as they move to maximise on the opportunity presented by clean energy becoming increasingly cost-competitive to drive their sustainability agenda.

 

*The tables above summarise market data based on closing prices on Jan 26 2018.