many analysts and supported prices. On 11 May, the Henry Hub Natural Gas price was USD 2.81 per one million British thermal units ( MMBtu). The price was up 4.9% from the same day in the previous month but was 5.0% lower on a year-todate basis. In addition, the price was down 16.9% from the corresponding date in 2017. A record boom in natural gas production in the U.S., which the EIA projects will reach 80.5 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) in 2018—up 6.9 Bcf/d from the 2017 level—provides some resistance to a large price upswing over the near-term. Although inventories ended April 27% below their fi ve-year average, they are expected to catch up during the injection season and end only slightly under the fi ve-year average by October. Nevertheless, temperatures in the coming three months are expected to be signifi cantly higher than average, particularly in the Southwestern United States, bolstering natural gas demand for electricity production, which is used for cooling. Although record supply should limit price increases in the coming quarter, FocusEconomics panelists foresee higher prices by the end of 2018, thanks in large part to robust demand in China, which aims to replace highly polluting coal with natural gas. FocusEconomics panelists see the spot price averaging USD 2.98 per MMBtu in Q4 2018. They expect it to climb slightly, to USD 3.07 per MMBtu, in Q4 2019. In light of recent developments, 12 panelists left their forecasts unchanged this month, while 2 revised down their projections. Furthermore, 3 decided to upgrade their price forecasts for the commodity. The maximum price forecast for Q4 2018 was USD 3.50 per MMBtu, while the minimum forecast was USD 2.60 per MMBtu.
Australian Thermal Coal prices remained elevated in recent weeks amid resilient demand and expectations of tighter supply. On 11 May, the spot price for Australian Thermal Coal
was USD 101.8 per metric ton. The price was up 8.6% from the same day in April but was 0.1% higher on a year-to-date basis. However, the price was up 38.8% from the same day
last year. Demand from Asian markets, notably China , Korea and Japan, for thermal coal resisted the usual seasonal slowdown in early Q2 and continues to defy the rise of alternative energy sources, including renewables and natural gas. Demand from China remained robust despite government eff orts to move away from a reliance on coal to less polluting sources of
energy. In the fi rst four months of the year, Chinese imports increased at nearly a double-digit pace, despite a drop in April due to increased restrictions. Moreover, supply-side concerns
are supporting prices. Indonesia, a major exporter of thermal coal, is redirecting its coal to the domestic market, which will likely reduce exports. In addition, Australia’s space to increase
exports could limited by environmental activism. Demand for thermal coal is expected to remain solid this year and the next; it remains a frequently used source for power generation around the globe, notably in Asia. However, prices are expected to come down from their current levels on the back of concerns around the longevity of robust Chinese demand as its government pushes for cleaner sources of energy. In addition, the current high prices for thermal coal
negate one of the commodity’s key advantages—its relative low cost—and hurt demand. Our panelists project that the price of thermal coal will average a more moderate USD 86.9 per metric ton in Q4 2018. In 2019, analysts see the price decreasing to USD 81.9 per metric ton in Q4 2018.
This month, 10 panelists maintained their projections this month and no panelists raised their forecasts. Meanwhile, 1 panelist revised his forecast down.
The minimum price forecast this month was USD 72.5 per metric ton in Q4 2018. On the fl ip side, the maximum price forecast for Q4 was USD 97.5 per metric ton.
Despite stronger coking coal import data from China for March, prices for the commodity decreased in recent weeks due to seasonal weakness in Chinese demand for steel and concerns over trade tensions; coking coal is used in the production of steel. On 11 May, coking coal traded at USD
182.0 per metric ton, which was 4.7% lower than on the same day last month. The price was down 5.7% on a year-to-date basis but was 9.0% higher than on the same day last year.
A pick-up in producer infl ation in April points to healthy Chinese demand for industrial inputs. However, the ongoing environmental crackdown in China should see a shift in demand towards cleaner sources of energy, and demand for coking coal has been relatively weak in the year to date.
Trade tensions also put downward pressure on prices. Demand from China should gradually moderate, as the government’s push to reduce pollution will likely lead to a shift towards more environmentally friendly sources of energy. Our panelists expect prices to average USD 169.1 per metric ton in Q4 2018 and USD 151.6 per metric ton in Q4 2019.
Uranium prices increased over the past month amid news of lower production in the United States. On 11 May, uranium traded at USD 21.8 per pound, which was 3.6% higher than on the same day in April. The price was down, however, 8.4% on a year-to-date basis and was 3.3% lower than on
the same day in 2017. The U.S. Energy Information Administration stated on 9 May
that the country’s uranium production in the fi rst quarter of 2018 fell 50% compared to the same period a year earlier, to a record quarterly low. This stoked interest in some U.S.
mining companies’ petitions for higher U.S. tariff s on uranium imports. Meanwhile, the eighth Japanese nuclear reactor since the Fukushima nuclear meltdowns in 2011 is expected
to come back online this month, representing another vote of confi dence in nuclear energy generation. Upward pressure on prices is expected in the coming years due to increased demand from countries seeking to boost their nuclear-generating capacities, particularly China and
India. However, prices are still projected to remain below the heights seen before the Fukushima disaster. FocusEconomics panelists project that prices will average USD 25.4 per pound in Q4 2018 and USD 30.5 per pound in Q4 2019.
European low sulfur gasoil prices continued to increase so far in the second quarter on the back of tight market conditions and heightened geopolitical tensions. On 11 May, gasoil
traded at USD 658 per metric ton, which was 3.3% higher than on the same day last month and was up 9.8% on a yearto- date basis. Moreover, the price was 49.1% higher than on the same day last year. Robust demand from key sectors such as aviation and shipping have propelled the price increases. Reports pointing to declining inventories as refi neries produce more lighter crude oil distillates and expectations of strong seasonal demand in the next two quarters have also driven prices higher. In addition, the U.S. decision to walk away from the Iran nuclear deal on 8 May deal has boosted prices in the global oil market on expectations of declining Iranian oil output. Prices are expected to ease by year-end due to elevated output outweighing strong demand, particularly from the shipping industry. FocusEconomics panelists see prices averaging USD 605 per metric ton in Q4 2018 and USD 607 per metric ton in Q4 2019.
Reformulated blendstock for oxygenate blending (RBOB) gasoline prices rose in May, driven up by a spike in geopolitical uncertainty following the United States’ decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal on 8 May, which could lead to a further reduction in global oil output. On 11 May,
RBOB gasoline traded at USD 2.32 per gallon, which was up 5.5% from the same day last month. Moreover, the price was 26.3% higher on a year-to-date basis and was up 35.2% from the same day last year.
Gasoline prices should continue increasing in the second quarter on mounting expectations that markets will tighten. A report released by the U.S. Energy Information Agency on 8 May foresees higher prices for the commodity in upcoming months, driven by strong demand and higher prices for WTI oil. RBOB gasoline prices are, however, expected to ease in the second half of the year as remains elevated. FocusEconomics panelists expect gasoline to trade at an average of USD 1.85
per gallon in Q4 2018 and at an average of USD 1.83 per gallon in Q4 2019.
Aluminium prices gained ground in recent weeks but were highly volatile. Prices touched a multi-year high on 19 April, as sanctions imposed by the U.S. on Rusal—one of the world’s largest aluminium producers—sparked concerns of supply shortages. However, the U.S. softened its stance and fears of supply disruptions eased, leading prices to drop. Aluminium traded at USD 2,330 per metric ton on 11 May, which was 3.2% higher than on the same day in April . Moreover, the
value was up 3.3% on a year-to-date basis and was 24.6% higher than on the same day a year ago.
Markets spiraled into chaos following the U.S. decision in early April to impose sanctions on Rusal. As the company produces over 6% of the world’s aluminium, fears of supply shortages spread and prices skyrocketed. This led the U.S. to reconsider the scope of its sanctions. The government
extended the deadline to October and removed secondary sanctions, which strongly pushed prices down. Further downward pressure came from weaker-than-expected readings for industrial production in China in March and weakening sentiment in the U.S. manufacturing sector in
May. However, U.S. President Trump’s decision to delay the implementation of tariff s on aluminium imports from the EU, Mexico and Canada sustained prices. Prices are projected to drop in the months ahead, as the eff ect on prices from U.S. sanctions partially wane. In addition, increased supply from China following the easing of environmental requirements should boost global supply.
However, demand is also expected to increase, as the transition of the Chinese economy to a less investment- intensive growth model will be gradual. FocusEconomics panelists see prices averaging USD 2,146 per metric ton in the last quarter of 2018. For Q4 2019, they forecast that
prices will average USD 2,175 per metric ton. In light of recent developments, 8 analysts participating in our Consensus Forecast increased their Q4 2018 projections.
17 analysts left their forecasts unchanged from the previous month, and 1 cut his forecast.
Analysts have diverging views on how prices will evolve towards the end of the year. For Q4 2018, the maximum price forecast is USD 2,388 per metric ton, while the minimum is USD 1,874 per metric ton.
Alumina prices in China were highly volatile in recent weeks. Prices hit a multi-year high on 19 April following U.S. sanctions on Russian alumina producer Rusal, but then dropped as the
U.S. eased sanctions. The commodity traded at USD 492 per metric ton on 11 May. The price was up 13.3% from the same day in April and was 12.3% higher on a year-to-date basis.
Moreover, it was up 48.9% from the same day last year. FocusEconomics panelists expect alumina prices to lose ground. The eff ects on prices from U.S. sanctions on Rusal will be partly reabsorbed, while overseas demand for Chinese alumina should be curbed by U.S. tariff s. FocusEconomics
panelists see alumina pric es averaging USD 405 per metric ton in Q4 2018. They expect prices to average USD 384 per metric ton in Q4 2019.
Copper prices remained relatively stable over the last month, following a period of notable volatility at the beginning of the year. Following the multi-year highs reached at the end
of 2017, prices have trended slightly downwards since, yet remain generally elevated. On 11 May, the spot price was USD 6,884 per metric ton, which was 0.4% lower than on the same day last month and was down 4.5% on a year-to-date basis. The price, however, was 24.7% higher than on the
same day in 2017. Copper prices were healthy in mid-April before falling again at the end of the month amid growing oversupply concerns, as investors foresaw stronger than previously anticipated
refi ned copper production. Lower prices persisted at the beginning of May amid the backdrop of a stren gthening dollar, which helped off set upward price pressures stemming from
positive trade data from China, the world’s largest consumer of copper. Meanwhile, Chile, the world’s largest copper producer, reported production growth of nearly 20.0% in Q1, exacerbating downward pressure on prices. Data from the second week of May signaled a potential upturn for prices
as declining inventories on the London Metal Exchange and robust Chinese demand improved the outlook.
Copper prices are likely to continue moderating this year, with analysts expecting prices to slip below the USD 7,000 mark by the end of Q4, after having gotten ahead of fundamentals at the end of 2017. Global supply levels should rise as production accelerates in the world’s top producers,
particularly Chile. Meanwhile, global demand is projected to slow mildly, led by a cooling in China, thus weighing on copper prices. Nevertheless, in the medium- to long-term copper prices should trend upwards on greater global demand for infrastructure, electric vehicles, and renewable energy.
Analysts project that copper prices will average USD 6,885 per metric ton in Q4 2018 and USD 7,145 per metric ton in Q4 2019. The minimum forecast for Q4 2018 is USD 5,820
per metric ton, while the maximum forecast is USD 7,916 per metric ton. This month, 22 analysts polled by FocusEconomics took a wait-and-see approach and kept their projections
unchanged for Q4 2018; 4 upgraded their forecasts and 2 revised down their projections from last month’s estimate.
Lead prices traded lower in recent weeks, reaching an eightmonth low in early May amid ongoing volatility in commodity markets and a strong U.S. dollar. Supply- and demand-side
fundamentals have, however, remained relatively stable since the outset of the year. On 11 May, the spot price closed at USD 2,293 per metric ton, which was 4.7% lower than on the same day a month earlier. Moreover, the price was down 7.7% on a year-to-date basis but was up 5.6% from the same
day last year. Global geopolitical uncertainties have continued battering lead prices since the broad commodity sell-off began early this year. Most notably, fears of an escalating trade war
between the United States and China—despite milder rhetoric recently—continue weighing on prices and threatening to dampen global demand for the commodity. Moreover, the
U.S. dollar remains strong despite softer economic data out of the U.S. in recent weeks hinting at the possibility of fewer rate hikes by the Fed this year. Lighter lead inventories, on the
other hand, cushioned prices somewhat. Tight output capacity is expected to support prices this year,
which could be lifted further by the relatively low levels of secondary lead that are currently in the market. Moreover, a strong global economy anchored by robust growth in the U.S. and China should continue fueling demand for lead-heavy vehicle batteries. Demand is expected to outweigh supply this year, lending upward pressure on prices. FocusEconomics Consensus Forecast panelists see prices averaging USD 2,416 per metric ton in Q4 2018. The panel expects prices to roughly stabilize in Q4 2019, averaging USD 2,401 per metric ton.
This month, 12 FocusEconomics panelists left their projections unchanged from last month’s forecast. Meanwhile, 5 made downward revisions, and 1 panelist upgraded his forecast.
FocusEconomics Consensus Forecast panelists are divided on the direction of prices in the short term. Some panelists see prices recovering to the highs reached at the beginning of the year, with a maximum price forecast for Q4 2018 at USD 2,800 per metric ton. Conversely, some panelists are bearish and see prices slipping considerably, with a minimum price forecast for Q4 2018 at USD 1,850 per metric ton.Por Focus Economics - https://www.focus-economics.com/ - Barcelona España