General news

  • The dollar has remained on the defensive, with near 10-month lows. The prospect of further US monetary tightening this year fades as Washington continues to find itself in a “political gridlock”, unable to enact its pro-growth policies of tax cuts and fiscal stimulus
  • Last week’s ECB meeting enabled the EUR to race nearly 11% higher against the USD this year

Agriculture

  • Research by the British Retail Consortium indicates that Brexit poses “real risks” to the cost, availability and quality of the UK’s food supplies and that the government has yet to show any substantial signs of addressing these concerns. The EU currently supplies 31% of Britain’s food - the report suggests that even a “soft” Brexit could seriously compromise this supply 
  • Dry, hot weather in Australia, North America and Europe is threatening high quality wheat around the world, sending prices to multi-year highs as bread makers rush to secure supplies
  • The US agricultural secretary has announced that before the US considers ending a ban on the import of Brazilian meat, Brazil needs to make notable progress on inspections
  • China’s reform of its vast corn sector is spurring a rapid revival of cheaper corn syrup, putting Asian sugar producers under pressure as the two commodities compete in the sweetener market. The Chinese reform has been driven by cheap corn from a sell-down of the country’s giant stockpiles, which have encouraged producers to boost output and restart idled capacity
  • After 10 years of negotiation, China has signed an historic agreement to provide market access for US rice; the first exports from the US could however still be a few months away as all parties work to ensure compliance with the agreed regulations
  • Thanks to the world’s increasing demand for protein, fish and meat have become the top-performing group in the agricultural sector
  • Latest data indicates that China’s sugar imports plunged last month following the imposition of hefty tariffs on foreign arrivals and the slashing of import permits by the Chinese government. Corn imports, however, surged following the forecast for Chinese corn dropping to the lowest level in 4 years after severe droughts in domestic growing regions

Metals

  • The World Bank has warned that moving from fossil fuels to greener forms of energy could incur environmental challenges as a result of the need for large amounts of metals and rare earth elements. The concern is that the level of mining and extraction needed to meet demand (metals demand could double due to growth in wind turbines, solar panels and batteries) could create environmental problems in terms of energy, water and land use
  • As electric cars continue to gain momentum and widespread consumer adoption becomes increasingly likely in the near future, experts have indicated that there will need to be new copper mines developed and that the expansion of current mines will not be enough to meet demand. These new projects however require copper to be at a higher price in order to make them economically viable 
  • Last week saw the price of copper rise to above $6,000 a tonne for the first time since March, following data which showed China’s growth accelerating. A weak dollar further supported copper prices
  • Treatment and refining charges for copper (TC/RCs) have turned lower in recent weeks following disruptions to copper shipments from Canada and Chile as a result of wild fires and rough swells; TC/RCs is a closely watched indicator of copper supply and when they drop lower it indicates that smelters have been forced to drop their rates to attract feed as a result of scarce mine supply
  • Palladium prices are expected to hit their highest annual average price for three decades following tightness in the lending market which squeezed prices higher
  • Chinese iron ore futures have risen to hit their highest price in almost two-and-a-half months with the market likely to remain optimistic thanks to the rallying prices of steel products as a result of inventory remaining at low levels
  • UK-listed mining company Acacia Mining is facing renewed pressure to address long-running alleged human rights violations at one of its East African gold mines in Tanzania; the company are also being accused by the Tanzanian government of massively understating concentrations of gold in its exports thereby cheating the treasury of billions of dollars. Acacia has warned that they will have to close the mine if the Tanzanian government does not lift its export ban

Energy

UK

  • The delivery of LNG via tankers to the UK, Belgium and the Netherlands are all expected in the closing weeks of July. The UK is expecting its next delivery of 262,000 cubic meters on the 28 July 
  • RWE has put forward plans to create an energy centre on the site of the former Tilbury B power station. The proposal includes a combined-cycle gas turbine, the option for an open-cycle gas turbine and an energy storage facility
  • The UK government has now launched the first phase of a £246m investment programme in battery technology; the programme is to support research, innovation and the scale-up of battery technology in the UK

International

Oil

  • Oil prices have dipped again following high OPEC production from Nigeria and Libya and rising US inventories; although Libya and Nigeria are exempt from the production cuts it is likely that talks of capping Nigerian and Libyan production are be on the horizon
  • Russia’s energy minister has announced his belief that Nigeria and Libya need to join OPEC’s production cuts deal as soon as their output stabilises. The announcement indicates Russia’s sense of frustration and belief that the struggling price of oil is predominantly down to increasing output from the two African countries, as well as the booming US shale industry 
  • Recent dialogue between Russia and Saudi Arabia indicates that the nations are to continue proactively support each other in the oil and gas sector; according to Russia’s energy minister the countries have been discussing way to promote Russian services and drilling companies in Saudi Arabia and work together in designing oil and gas extraction technologies and equipment
  • Although there is currently a record amount of oil refining throughput at Chinese refineries, this throughput is expected to decrease amid quotas and a tighter regulatory environment
  • Recent data indicates that in the US there is over 6,000 drilled but uncompleted wells, as a result of drilling rates being much higher than the rate at which completion crews are becoming available to enable them to begin producing oil. This large backlog of wells indicates that US output is likely to continue to grow throughout the rest of 2017 and into 2018. However, according to Kayrros, an energy research firm backed by Schlumberger’s CEO, US production growth is likely to fall short of government forecasts as a result of the shortage of crews. 
  • As the US shale oil industry continues to recover, capacity constraints have emerged which have seen fracking services prices double from their lows a year ago
  • As a result of its economic situation, Ecuador has raised its oil production above its OPEC target; Ecuador’s oil minister has argued that since Ecuador is one of OPEC’s smallest producers, it has an unwritten agreement with OPEC that it is allowed some flexibility

   Other

  • Beijing has announced they are looking to cut Chinese coal consumption to below 5 million tonnes by 2020 by limiting the use of coal in smog-prone areas
  • CSX, one of the largest haulers of US coal, has announced its long-term view that fossil fuels have no future and that they will not be buying any more locomotives to pull coal trains. This announcement is contrary to pledges from Trump to revive the industry and supports the move by US power generators building more plans fuelled by natural gas, displacing the oil coal-fired units
  • As the cost of solar panels, batteries and wind production continues to fall, the IEA projects that there will be a large decline in the global use of both coal and oil. As electric vehicles increase in popularity and potential in both developed and emerging markets (OPEC predict 22% EV share, globally), the third of the global oil market which is accounted for by road transportation has the potential to significantly reduce in the near future
  • California is a prime example of how “clean” power is forcing energy traders and utilities to respond and adapt to national efforts to cut greenhouse gases by adopting solar and wind power. The fact that the amount of electricity generated by wind and solar power can vary hour to hour has meant that California’s grid operator has had to create a new marketplace to deal with instances in which there are excess supplies (in this instance, the solution has been to link California’s network to seven western states to which excess electricity can be discharged)