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OIL RISES AS OPEC DEFERS EXTENSION OF OUTPUT CUTS

Oil prices ended nearly 1 percent higher on Friday, close to their highest levels in months, as major producers meeting in Vienna said they may wait until January before deciding whether to extend output curbs beyond the first quarter.

“I believe that January is the earliest date when we can actually, credibly speak about the state of the market,” Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said after the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other major producers finished meeting.

Other ministers said a decision on extending cuts could be taken in November when OPEC holds its next formal meeting.

Brent crude rose 43 cents, or 0.8 percent, to settle at $56.86, a penny shy of the session high which was also the highest since March. US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude settled at $50.66 a barrel, up 11 cents or 0.2 percent, within a few cents of its May peak. For the week, Brent posted a gain of 2.2 percent, while WTI was up 1.5 percent.

Oil prices have gained more than 15 percent in three months, suggesting OPEC-led output cuts of 1.8 million barrels per day have reduced the global crude glut. Rising demand has also helped balance the market.

Rising US output has somewhat offset OPEC-led production cuts. The US government reported that crude production rose to 9.51 million bpd last week, resuming output close to levels before Hurricane Harvey hit the Gulf Coast in late August.

However, the number of US oil rigs operating, an indicator of future production, fell for the third straight week as a 14-month drilling recovery stalled as companies pared back on spending plans when crude prices were softer.

SOY, CORN FIRM ON BROAD PRODUCT STRENGTH

US soybean futures firmed on Wednesday, supported by strength in commodities and resurgent soy export demand. Wheat and corn followed the higher trend, with both grains rebounding after a two-session slide as the US corn harvest got under way.

Chicago Board of Trade November soybeans settled up 4-1/2 cents at $9.70 per bushel. December corn ended up 1-3/4 cents at $3.50 a bushel and December wheat rose 6-3/4 cents at $4.49-3/4 a bushel. Soybeans jumped to a session high after the US Department of Agriculture said private exporters sold 1.2 million tonnes of US soybeans, including 1.08 million tonnes to unknown destinations.

EUROPE GASOLINE REFINING MARGINS DIP

Benchmark gasoline refining margins in northwest Europe dropped to their lowest since late July as exports from the region slowed. Gasoline exports from Europe slowed down this week as the surge following Hurricane Harvey petered off. Several cargoes were booked to go to North America, West Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. Exports of reformate, a gasoline blending component, from Europe to China rose sharply in recent weeks and are expected to reach around 600,000 tonnes in September. US gasoline stocks fell last week by 2.1 million barrels.

SRI LANKA TEA OUTPUT INCREASES

Sri Lanka’s tea output rose 6.14 percent due to good weather in August, the state-run Tea Board said on Wednesday, while industry officials also attributed the gain to lower production last year. Production in the first eight months of the year edged up 3.99 percent compared to the same period last year. It’s the good weather that helped to increase the production, this year we will have a better production than last year.

Lower use of fertilizers, weak market prices and a government ban on the use of pesticides resulted in a decline in production last year. Sri Lanka’s tea output hit a seven-year low in 2016, falling 11.1 percent in its third straight year of declining production due to adverse weather.

RAW SUGAR UP, ARABICA COFFEE DECLINES

Raw sugar futures rose on Wednesday in a technical correction after the previous day’s sharp slump while arabica coffee slid further as speculative selling persisted. October raw sugar was up 0.14 cents, or 1 percent, at 13.90 cents per lb by 1334 GMT, having earlier hit a session high of 14.05 cents. Prices plunged 3.8 percent on Tuesday on forecasts for earlier than expected rains in Brazil, which would benefit the cane crop after a recent dry spell. Dealers pointed to light short-covering on Wednesday as the drop in prices below ethanol parity levels in Brazil prompted sellers to back off.

CBOT WHEAT CLIMBS

Chicago Board of Trade wheat closed higher Wednesday on technical buying including short-covering, coupled with worries about dry weather in Australia and excessive rains in Argentina.

CBOT December wheat settled up 6-3/4 cents at $4.49-3/4 a bushel after notching a one-month high at $4.52 in the final minutes of trade. K.C. December hard red winter wheat ended up 6 cents at $4.48 a bushel and MGEX December spring wheat rose 4-1/4 cents at $6.21-1/2. Rains expected next week should help recharge soil moisture in the southern US Plains winter wheat belt, where planting is under way. Ahead of the US Department of Agriculture’s weekly export sales report on Thursday, analysts expected the government to report weekly US wheat export sales at 300,000 to 500,000 tonnes.

COCOBOD INKS $1.3BN LOAN FOR COCOA PURCHASES

Ghana’s cocoa industry regulator Cocobod signed a $1.3 billion loan with international banks on Wednesday to fund purchases for the 2017/18 season, due to open early next month.

The world’s second largest cocoa producer after Ivory Coast, Ghana uses loans from international banks every year for bean purchases. In the upcoming season it aims to buy at least 850,000 tonnes from farmers.

The loan, signed in Paris with 25 banks, is smaller than the $1.8 billion secured last year, which ran out early. The deal provides for an additional $200 million to be added if needed. The largest pre-export soft commodity financing facility in sub-Saharan Africa, the loan was oversubscribed by $300 million.

US MILK PRODUCTION UP 2PC

Milk production in the United States during August totaled 18.1 billion pounds, up 2.0 percent from August 2016. Production per cow in the United States averaged 1,919 pounds for August, 24 pounds above August 2016.

The number of milk cows on farms in the United States was 9.41 million head, 71,000 head more than August 2016, but unchanged from July 2017. Milk production in the 23 major States during August totaled 17.0 billion pounds, up 2.1 percent from August 2016. July revised production, at 17.2 billion pounds, was up 2.1 percent from July 2016. The July revision represented an increase of 31 million pounds or 0.2 percent from last month’s preliminary production estimate.

Production per cow in the 23 major States averaged 1,948 pounds for August, 26 pounds above August 2016. This is the highest production per cow for the month of August since the 23 State series began in 2003. The number of milk cows on farms in the 23 major States was 8.73 million head, 66,000 head more than August 2016, but unchanged from July 2017.

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