Combined coal throughput from the Newcastle terminals at Carrington and Kooragang in February 2014 was 9.9 Mt, according to port authority data. This is 0.6 Mt higher than in January, and 1.9 Mt higher than the year-ago level.
US Employment Data
According to the US Labor Department, 175,000 new jobs were created by the US economy in February 2014. This compares with 129,000 new jobs in January, and 84,000 in December 2013. The US unemployment rate rose by 0.1% month-on-month, to 6.7% in February.
Global oil demand increases y-o-y in February
Global oil demand was up 1% y-o-y in February at 92.08M b/d, Energy Intelligence reports. OECD oil demand fell slightly by 0.1% y-o-y to 46.56M b/d, the first decline in four months. Demand in Non-OECD countries increased y-o-y by 2.2% to 45.52M b/d, the fastest rate of growth for the group since August.
Port Hedland Iron Ore Shipments
According to port authority data, Port Hedland exported 27.8 Mt of iron ore in February 2014, down 0.4 Mt month-on-month. However, this is 7.9 Mt higher than the total for February 2013. Exports from Port Hedland to China fell 2.0 Mt from January, to 21.3 Mt, while exports to Japan rose 1.4 Mt month-on-month, to 2.8 Mt.
Richards Bay Coal Terminal February Throughput
Richards Bay exported 4.5 Mt of coal in February 2014, down 0.1 Mt on January’s total and marking a year-on-year decline of 1.0 Mt, according to terminal authority data. These reductions may, in part, be due to a localised power failure that halted all operation at the terminal for a week at the start of February. The terminal expects shipping operation to return to normal by the end of March.
US crude inventories increase
US crude stocks increased 1.4M bbls w-o-w to 363.8M bbls in the week ending February 28th, US Energy Information Administration (EIA) data shows. Crude imports were up by 75K b/d from the previous week averaging 7.1M b/d. Refinery inputs averaged 15.2M b/d last week, declining 87K b/d w-o-w with refineries operating at 87.4% capacity.
Japanese Steel Exports
Japanese steel exports fell by 0.5 Mt in January 2014, to 3.0 Mt, according to data from the Japan Iron and Steel Federation. This is their lowest level since January 2012. Steel exports to Asia edged lower by 0.1 Mt from December levels, to 2.6 Mt, while combined exports to Western Europe and North America fell by the same amount month-on-month, to 0.2 Mt.
Turkish Coal Imports
According to data from McCloskey, total Turkish coal imports were 2.7 Mt in January 2014, up 0.3 Mt month-on-month. This is their highest level since July 2013, and is 0.7 Mt higher than for the same month in 2013. Coking coal imports were stable, at 0.6 Mt, while imports of steam coal and anthracite combined rose by 0.4 Mt month-on-month, to 2.1 Mt.
Queensland Ports Coal Throughput
In February 2014, combined coal throughput at Gladstone, Dalrymple and Hay Point coal terminals was 13.3 Mt, according to port authorities’ data. This is down 0.5 Mt month-on-month, but is 1.7 Mt higher than the combined total for the same month in 2013.
US manufacturing growth increases in February
The US Institute for Supply Management’s manufacturing index rose to 53.2 in February from 51.3 in January (a figure above 50 indicates an expansion). Manufacturing activity rebounded after a weather-related slowdown last month saw the index fall to an 8-month low.
Iraq exports record volumes of crude in February
Iraq exported a record 2.8M b/d in February up from 2.23M b/d in January, Reuters reports. Completion of work on the southern Basra port expansion project (where the majority of Iraqi crude is shipped from) was cited as a factor in the rise.
China Manufacturing PMI
Both the official and HSBC purchasing managers’ indices for China recorded falls in February 2014. The official PMI fell by 0.3 month-on-month, to 50.2. This is its lowest level since June 2013, but the 17th month in succession it has remained above the benchmark of 50 (indicating an expansion in activity). The HSBC PMI declined to 48.5, down from 49.5 in January, this is the second month in succession it has registered below the 50 benchmark.
Asian imports of Iranian crude increase
Asian purchases of Iranian crude increased 22% y-o-y in January with China, India, Japan and South Korea importing an average of 1.25M b/d last month, Reuters reports. Chinese imports increased by 82% y-o-y to 565K b/d in January, while Indian imports also increased. Conversely South Korean imports averaged 65K b/d last month, a third of what they were a year earlier, while Japanese imports were also down y-o-y.
Chinese Daily Crude Steel Production
According to data from the China Iron and Steel Association, Chinese daily crude steel output for 11-20 February 2014 was 1.966 Mt, down from 2.066 in the first 10 days of February.
World Grain Exports
The International Grains Council (IGC) has revised its forecast for world grain exports for the 2013/14 (Jul/Jun) marketing year to a record volume of 286.3 Mt, up by 1.8 Mt from its forecast in January and a massive increase of 20.6 Mt from the previous marketing year.
The February forecast for global corn exports in 2013/14 (Oct-Sep) is increased by 2.0 Mt from last month’s projection to a new record level of 110.4 Mt. This compares with the estimated 2012/13 total of 96.1 Mt. Upward revisions for Ukraine (+1 to 18.3 Mt), Brazil (+1 to 24 Mt) and the US (+1.8 to 35.5 Mt) have more than offset reduced expectations for Argentina (-1.6 to 15.9 Mt).
Total grain exports (including wheat, corn and soya) from the US are predicted to be 117.7 Mt in 2013/14, up by 3.0 Mt from January’s forecast and 25.0 Mt above the estimated 2012/13 level. The upward projection would return the US to its historical position as the world’s top corn exporter.
Russian crude seaborne exports to fall y-o-y in March
Crude oil March loading programmes at Russian ports are down 381K b/d y-o-y at 2.48M b/d, Energy Intelligence reports. The majority of the y-o-y decline comes from Baltic Sea ports, with Primorsk loadings set to be 875K b/d, down from 1.12M b/d in March 2013. Black Sea exports should be up 69K b/d m-o-m, but down 80K b/d y-o-y at 729K b/d. Kozmino is the only Russian port scheduled to see a y-o-y increase, with exports increasing 47K b/d to 473K b/d.
US Steel Imports
According to preliminary US Census Bureau data, US imports of steel products rose by 0.6 Mt month-on-month in January 2014, to 2.9 Mt. This is their highest level since July 2007 and compares with 2.4 Mt for January 2013.
Thailand is to suspend its annual rice buying scheme at the end of February, reports the Financial Times. The Thai government has previously bought rice from farmers at 40-50% above the market rate. However, due to financial constraints, the government has halted purchases and is now looking to sell its stockpile in order to make payments to farmers owed money under the scheme. State inventories are estimated to be between 10 and 15 Mt. To put this into perspective, the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service has previously estimated that Thailand will export 8.5 Mt of rice in 2014.
US crude imports fall
US crude oil imports fell by 384K b/d w-o-w to 7M b/d in the week ending February 21st, data from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) shows. Refinery inputs increased 121K b/d from the previous week to 15.3M b/d, while crude inventories increased slightly to 362.4M bbls.
World Steel Price
According to the latest World Steel Dynamics’ Steelbenchmarker, the world export price for hot rolled band fell slightly in the second half of February 2014, down $2/t in the last two weeks to $560/t. EU and Chinese HRB prices declined by $6/t and $7/t, to $599/t and $467/t respectively. This is the lowest Chinese HRB price since mid-September 2012. Meanwhile, US HRB prices also fell sharply, down $14/t to $722/t.
Signs of Vietnam shifting towards becoming a coal importer
Vietnam is expected to import around 10 Mt of coal this year, with Australia and Indonesia the most likely sources, IHS McCloskey reports. The country has been cutting its coal exports in recent years in order to meet rising domestic demand. The country exported 12.8 Mt of coal in 2013, down by 16% on 2012, according to government statistics, cited by McCloskey.
West African crude shipments to Asia set to fall in March
March loadings of West African crude are set to fall to 1.81M b/d from 1.95M b/d in February, Argus reports. This is due to a decline in purchases by Taiwanese, Japanese and Indonesian refiners. Chinese loadings held steady at 1.05M b/d while Indian refiners increased their purchases by 40K b/d to 550K b/d as major refineries emerge from maintenance.
Chinese Alumina Imports
Chinese alumina imports rose by 82.9% month-on-month in January 2014, to 0.6 Mt, according to China’s customs data. This is their highest level since May 2012, and compares with 0.5 Mt for the same period in 2013. In January, China’s largest supplier of bauxite, Indonesia, imposed a ban on exports of several unprocessed ores, including bauxite.
Indian Steel Demand
According to India’s Economic Times, the country’s steel demand growth is likely to slow in the fiscal year 2014 (April 2013-March 2014). For the period April-December 2013 domestic steel consumption grew by just 0.5%, compared with 3.3% for fiscal year 2013. However, as domestic steel production expanded by 5.2% over the same period, this resulted in growth of 9.5% in steel exports.
Libyan oil production falls
Libyan oil output has fallen to 230K b/d (down from 570K b/d in early January) as new protests shut the El Sharara oil field, Reuters reports. The field has a capacity of 330K b/d. Meanwhile, Mexico’s crude exports averaged 1.17M b/d in January, the lowest level since August, Pemex data shows. Mexican crude exports to the Far East were at their lowest since September 2012, plummeting 85% m-o-m to 14K b/d in January.