Global steel output soars 4pc in March
Global crude steel production rose four percent in March as mills in top producer China ramped up output after winter restrictions were lifted and as US producers took advantage of import tariffs to churn out more metal.
The steel industry, worth about $900 billion a year, is seen as a gauge of the world’s economic health. Global crude steel production rose to 148 million tonnes in March, figures from the World Steel Association (worldsteel) showed on Wednesday. Crude steel output from China, which produces about half the world’s steel, rose to 74.0 million tonnes, up 4.5 percent from March 2017 after winter restrictions to combat smog were lifted mid-March.
World oil prices edge lower
Oil prices edged lower on Friday, although Brent still gained for a third straight week amid supply concerns should the United States reimpose sanctions on Iran.
Brent crude futures LCOc1 fell 10 cents, or 0.1 percent, to settle at $74.64 a barrel. This month, the global benchmark hit highs above $75, a level last seen in late 2014. US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude CLc1 futures fell 9 cents to settle at $68.10 a barrel, also a 0.1 percent loss. Brent gained about 0.5 percent this week – its third consecutive weekly gain – while WTI posted a weekly loss of about 0.5 percent.
Hedge funds and other money managers cut their combined futures and options position in U.S. crude in New York and London by 17,021 contracts to 455,885 during the week to April 24, the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).
US President Donald Trump will decide by May 12 whether to reimpose sanctions on Iran that were lifted as part of an agreement with six other world powers over Tehran’s nuclear program. The renewed sanctions would likely dampen Iranian oil exports, disrupting global oil supply.
Brent has risen by around 6 percent so far this month, while WTI was on track for a gain of nearly 5 percent. The gains came despite a higher dollar, which hit its strongest since Jan. 11 against a basket of currencies.
Gold moves up on Korean denuclearization deal
Gold edged higher on Friday after the dollar and US Treasury yields backed off highs, but the prospect of a Korean denuclearisation deal eroded bullion’s safe-haven appeal.
Spot gold gained 0.4 percent at $1,321.81 per ounce by 1:37 p.m. EDT (1737 GMT). US gold futures for June delivery settled up $5.50, or 0.42 percent, at $1,323.40 per ounce.
US 10-year Treasury yields, the benchmark of global interest rates, retreated further from the 3 percent level they initially hit on Wednesday. A rise in US bond yields typically pressures gold by reducing the attractiveness of non-yielding bullion, which is priced in dollars.
Gold was on track to finish the week nearly 1 percent down for its second consecutive weekly decline and the biggest weekly drop in four.
The leaders of South and North Korea embraced after pledging on Friday to work for the “complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula”.
In other metals silver dropped 0.2 percent at $16.45 an ounce. It is
down more than 3 percent this week, the biggest weekly drop since the week ending Feb. 2. Platinum was down 0.9 percent at $913.90 an ounce. Palladium lost 1.5 percent at $970.22 an ounce.
US wheat surge on short-covering
US wheat and corn futures rallied to their highest in more than five weeks on Wednesday, supported by a round of short-covering amid persistent concerns about adverse weather curtailing harvest expectations for both grains, traders said. Soybean futures also were firm, with President Donald Trump’s announcement on Tuesday that the United States would likely reach a trade agreement with China raising hopes of a resumption in purchases from the world’s largest buyer of the oilseed.
Chicago Board of Trade soft red winter wheat notched the biggest gain, with the most-active contract rising 2.3 percent.
Aluminium falls for fifth day as rusal fears ease
Aluminium fell for a fifth day on Wednesday and was down nearly 20 percent from its April peak as concerns over the impact of US sanctions on Russian producer United Company Rusal eased. Prices of the metal, used in a variety of products from food cans to aeroplane parts, dropped sharply after the United States gave US customers of Rusal more time to comply with sanctions on Monday.
Three-month aluminium on the London Metal Exchange was 0.4 percent lower at $2,218 a tonne by 0950 GMT. At its low for the day of $2,191, it was down by nearly a fifth from the seven-year peak of $2,718 it hit in mid April.
US milk production up 54.4bn in q1
USDA’s milk production report last week indicated US milk production during the first quarter of 2018 was 54.4 billion pounds, up 1.5 percent or 823 million pounds from the first quarter of 2017.
On a daily average production basis, during the first quarter of 2018, US dairy farmers produced an additional 9 million pounds of milk per day than in 2017. The average number of milking cows during the quarter was 9.41 million head, up nearly 40,000 head from the same quarter last year. The average number of milking cows during the quarter was at the highest level in more than 20 years. Finally, milk per cow was a record-high 5,781 pounds during the quarter.
Pennsylvania’s natural gas output continues to increase
Pennsylvania’s marketed natural gas production averaged a record 15 Bcfd in 2017, 3 percent higher than the 2016 level. This production is largely from shale plays in the Appalachian basin.
Pennsylvania accounted for 19 percent of total US marketed natural gas production in 2017 and produced more natural gas than any other state except Texas. Pennsylvania has experienced an increase in permitting and drilling activity with the expansion of regional pipeline capacity capable of moving natural gas to market centers outside of production areas. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, the state issued 1,352 natural gas drilling permits in 2016 and another 2,038 in 2017. The drilling rig count in the state has also increased, averaging 20 rigs in 2016 and 33 in 2017, based on data from Baker Hughes.
South Korea’s FLC rejects 69,000 tonne corn tender
South Korea’s Feed Leaders Committee (FLC) rejected all offers and made no purchase in an international tender for about 69,000 tonnes of corn to be sourced from optional origins which closed on Wednesday, European traders said. Lowest offer was said to be $220.97 a tonne c&f plus an additional surcharge of $1.00 a tonne for additional port unloading. The corn was sought in one consignment for arrival in South Korea around Sept. 15.
Iraq seeks 30,000 tonnes of rice in tender
Iraq’s grain board said on Tuesday it was seeking 30,000 tonnes of rice in an international purchasing tender. The deadline for offers is May 3, the grain board said in a statement.
China sells 14,648 t of cotton at auction of state reserves
China sells 14,648 tonnes of cotton at auction of state reserves at an average price of 14,246 yuan ($2,254.79) per tonne, according to industry. Sales represent 48.82 percent of total cotton available at the auction.