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World Commodity Forecasts Industrial Raw Materials

  • ID: 2101443
  • July 2016
  • Region: Global
  • 112 Pages
  • The Economist Intelligence Unit
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Metals prices on the London Metal Exchange have continued to diverge in the month to mid-June, with prices for copper and lead still languishing below their late 2015 levels, while zinc and tin have continued to strengthen. Zinc closed at US$2,043/tonne on June 15th, up by 28% since the start of the year, and tin reached US$17,238/tonne, up by 18% over the same period. Meanwhile, nickel and aluminium, which staged a modest rebound in early June after sharp declines in May, traded respectively at 5% and 7% above their end-2015 level. China's efforts to stabilise the economy after the panic in January, coupled with the oil price rally to US$50/barrel and a slightly softer US dollar, have supported demand and investor sentiment towards commodities. However, the global economic backdrop remains weak, with subdued demand in developed economies and persistent anxiety about the ability of the Chinese government to cool its economy at a steady pace. The surge in the price of gold, an investor safe haven, shows how persistent these concerns are-gold is the strongest-performing industrial commodity after zinc, having risen by 21% since the start of 2016.

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World Commodity Forecasts Industrial Raw Materials

Economist Intelligence Unit commodity price index
It is too early to call a sustained rally in industrial commodity prices
Metals producers are beginning to respond to persistently low prices
The outlook for cotton and rubber prices is subdued
We have raised our forecast for Brent in 2016 from US$40/b to US$43/b
The price of Brent will peak in mid-2018

Aluminium
Demand
Chinese woes ease as stimulus packages start to reap rewards
Aluminium usage in Europe shows tentative signs of improving in Q2
Demand for aluminium in the US has been buoyant in early 2016
Japan's aluminium usage slides as construction contracts
Supply
There are doubts about the latest Chinese production statistics
US restarts in 2017 are unlikely against the price outlook
Production in the GCC should start to plateau as plants operate at capacity
Hindalco and Vedanta push Indian output to new highs
Higher pricing in March-April has failed to trigger restarts outside China
Stocks and prices
LME aluminium drops, but a rising trend is underway
China's dominance is making many uneasy

Coal
Demand
We expect China's coal demand to decline further in 2016-17
Stricter environmental regulations are detrimental to US coal demand
The fate of the Clean Power Plan is uncertain
Coal use will fall in the EU in 2016-17
The EU has adopted binding emissions targets to 2030
India's coal consumption will remain robust
Supply
China's output will fall amid low prices and soft demand
US production is on a downward trajectory
The Indian government will struggle to double production by 2020
Australia will achieve a marginal increase in output in the near term
Stocks and prices
Average annual prices will continue to fall in 2016, before picking up in 2017

Copper
Demand
Copper demand will keep rising in China, despite slowing GDP growth
Finance-related consumption will slow, but the SRB is likely to resume buying
India will fuel Asian copper consumption
European monetary policy will provide a small stimulus in 2016-17
Supply
Peru is set to remain the second-largest global copper mining country in 2016
Mining faces challenges in Chile, the biggest copper mining country
Further production cuts are on the cards amid persistently low prices
Policy uncertainty weighs on Indonesia's copper sector
Treatment charges face upside pressure, as mine production is growing strongly
Contrary to earlier declarations, Chinese smelters are not showing much restraint
Stocks and prices
Chinese stocks rise on high imports and weak arbitrage rates
Combined LME/SHFE stock levels are virtually unchanged so far in 2016
2016 price forecast lowered amid high stocks

Cotton
Demand
China's falling competitiveness is weighing on consumption
Inadequate textile-sector reforms will weigh on India's consumption growth
A power deficit and high operating costs hinder growth in Pakistan
Consumption in Bangladesh will grow, regardless of poor safety standards
Vietnam's consumption is set to continue to rise quickly
Supply
China's output will drop as subsidies are trimmed and production costs rise
More normal weather conditions will support modest output growth in India
Stable cotton prices will support output growth in the US in 2016/17
Pakistan's production is set to rise in 2016/17, from a 17-year low in 2015/16
High input costs and weak support to farmers weigh on Brazil's output
Stocks and prices
Chinese import restrictions will be negative for prices
Auction sales in China will weigh on prices in the short term
High stocks and weak demand growth will put downward pressure on prices

Crude oil
Demand
US consumption growth in 2016 will decelerate
Demand in OECD Europe will revert to long-term decline
China's demand growth will edge down
Other emerging markets will not make up for China's slower demand growth
Supply
Unplanned interruptions eat into 2016 output
Doha's failure has reinforced our forecast for rising OPEC output
US production will dip in 2016, and further in 2017
Russian producers hope to delay what seems an inevitable decline until 2017
Stocks and prices
We have raised our forecast for Brent in 2016 from US$40/b to US$43/b
The price of Brent will peak in mid-2018

Gold
Demand
Higher gold prices will take their toll on gold jewellery purchases in 2016
Investment in gold ETFs will have a significant impact on overall demand
Net retail investment activity will be subdued
Industrial gold is less competitive than alternatives
A few central banks continue to accumulate gold
Supply
Chinese production will add to global supply in the short term
Australia's production looks set to continue rising in 2016-17
US-dollar strength will undermine US-based mines' profits
South Africa's gold output will continue to slip
Low prices will deter recycling efforts in 2016
Producer hedging will add little supply in 2016-17
Stocks and prices
Gold has regained some appeal as a safe-haven asset, pushing up prices

Lead
Demand
The outlook for lead-consuming sectors in China is mixed
China consumption is overshadowed by persistent destocking in the short term
Japan's lead demand will stabilise in 2016-17
Europe's car sales are up by a strong 8.5% year on year in January-April
Strong car sales in the US may not boost lead consumption immediately
Supply
Chinese refined lead production fell by 3.8% year on year in January-April
Some capacity additions are planned outside China
Global mine output dropped by 9.1% in the first quarter, owing to closures
Stocks and prices
LME/SHFE stocks are up by 3.6% or 7,400 tonnes so far in 2016
Lead prices seen stabilising across 2016-17, but to remain volatile

Liquefied natural gas
Demand
Falling power generation is one factor undermining Japan's LNG demand
Japan is seeking to become a hub for flexible LNG trading
South Korea's LNG imports are falling but Australia is taking market share
Reform of wholesale pricing appears to be boosting China's LNG uptake
India's LNG imports have surged so far this year
The Middle East is expected to grow its market share
The EU will absorb much of the new supply in 2016-17
LNG as a marine fuel is set to grow
Supply
Qatar is having to adapt to greater competition in the market
Australia's LNG exports will continue to grow strongly in 2016-17
Malaysia's output will grow in 2016-17
Russia's Yamal could become operational as early as 2017
The US will be a significant LNG exporter by 2018
Angola LNG will restart in 2016
Prices
Producers will be forced into greater flexibility in their contracts

Natural gas
Demand
US demand will continue to increase, albeit at a slower pace than in 2015
Russian consumption will be limited by the domestic economic performance
Europe's gas demand will show a more settled pattern
China seeks to stimulate demand recovery with lower city-gate prices
A return to some nuclear use will come at the expense of Japan's gas demand
Southern Gas Corridor lays down challenge to Nord Stream-2
Supply
North American production continues to benefit from strong US demand
Russian production will increase despite new sanctions
Shale exploration in Europe has so far been disappointing
Iran courts upstream gas investment following nuclear deal
Saudi Arabia is planning new capacity
Stocks and prices
Price recovery will be muted owing to high production and stock levels

Natural rubber
Demand
Deteriorating prospects for China's tyre exports could weigh on NR demand
India's NR usage should revive, but risks are to the downside
Japan is unlikely to increase NR usage significantly in 2016-17
"Other Asia" demand is being boosted by stockpiling in producing countries
Steady growth in vehicle production in developed markets will support NR use
Brazil's economic woes will stifle demand
Low oil prices will enhance the appeal of SR in 2016
Supply
Thailand's rubber output is likely to fall sharply this year owing to drought
Dry weather is also likely to have had an adverse effect on Indonesian output
Vietnam's production and exports could dip this year
Malaysian production fell sharply in the first quarter
India's production may pick up in 2017, encouraged by higher prices
Stocks and prices
Plan to withhold exports should support prices

Nickel
Demand
Weakness in the stainless steel sector will weigh on China's nickel demand
Chinese steelmakers are turning to alternatives for nickel pig iron
Nickel use will grow in most advanced economies, albeit slowly
After two years of strong growth, nickel usage in Taiwan is falling back in 2016
Supply
Investment in nickel mines in the Philippines is slow to materialise
The government in New Caledonia is stepping in to support the nickel sector
Indonesia's policy heightens uncertainty for miners and refiners
China's nickel producers face myriad challenges
Russia's refined nickel output growth will fall in 2016
Stocks and prices
Having fallen to a six-year low, prices will begin to recover in 2016

Steel
Demand
Credit boost provides short-term support for Chinese steel demand
US automobile sales and construction will support North American demand
EU consumption will grow modestly, with some support from the ECB
Growth in "other Asia" is likely to be steady but not spectacular
Supply
Restructuring is likely to be postponed amid credit infusion
US steel output will see a rebound in 2016
NAFTA governments are targeting steel dumping
The UK steel industry is fighting for survival
The EU is stepping up AD measures
India's steel production will grow fast, helped by import restrictions
Iron ore prices will ease after surging in March-April
Coking coal production cutbacks will return the market to balance from 2016
Scrap prices have finally adjusted to lower iron ore and coal prices
Stocks and prices
Utilisation rates will struggle to rise above 75%
The rally in prices has lost steam and we expect further softening later in 2016

Tin
Demand
Tin consumption has been mixed so far in 2016
Expanding use of consumer electronics will support tin demand in 2016-17
The chemicals sector is expected to add to tin demand, unlike tinplate
China's tin demand growth, while slowing, looks set to continue
European tin demand will return to slow growth in 2017
US tin demand is in long-term decline
Long-term prospects for Japan's tin consumption look limited
Supply
China's production is breaking records owing to ore supplies from Myanmar
Regulations and resource depletion are undermining Indonesia's tin sector
There are doubts about Indonesia's tin mine output potential in the long term
Only a small number of new mines and expansions are expected in 2016-17
Stocks and prices
Tin prices will rebound in 2016-17, amid gradual market tightening

Zinc
Demand
China's zinc demand will grow by 4.5% a year in 2016-17
Overcapacity in the steel sector will weigh on Chinese zinc use
Commodity-exporting emerging markets will grow slowly in 2016-17
EU passenger-vehicle sales grew by 8.5% year on year in January-April
Destocking by steelmakers is lowering growth in apparent zinc us in the US
Supply
Chinese producers are making concerted output cuts
EU refined zinc production growth will continue to slow in 2016-17
India and South Korea are rare outliers, with positive growth forecast in 2016
Tighter ore availability is becoming evident
Benchmark TC deals in 2016 set well below the 2015 record
Stocks and prices
LME/SHFE stock are down by a combined 29,501 tonnes in 2016
Prices are forecast to rise gradually in 2016-17, due to supply cuts

Statistical appendix

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