Colombian Steam Coal Exports
Colombia exported 5.2 Mt of steam coal in March 2014, down 0.2 Mt year-on-year, according to data from McCloskey. Steam coal exports in the 1q14 totalled 14.0 Mt, slightly down on the same period in 2013. Exports were disrupted in 1q14 as direct loading was installed at Puerto Drummond in order to comply with new environmental regulations. There were also a variety of disruptions to exports in 1q13 ranging from railing restrictions to strike action. The scale of the disruption is evident when compared with the 1q12, when 19.7 Mt of coal were exported.
US Steel Imports
According to preliminary data from the US Census Bureau, in March 2014 US steel imports fell by 2% month-on-month to 3.2 Mt. However, steel imports in the 1q14 totalled 9.7 Mt, up 26% on the same period in 2013.
China’s oil demand declines y-o-y in 1Q14
China’s apparent oil demand in 1Q14 fell by 1.3% y-o-y while oil demand in April is likely to grow by less than 1.0%, Energy Intelligence estimates. This compares with a 2.2% rise in 1Q13. An economic slowdown and declining net product imports were noted as factors in the fall.
US crude stocks reach record high
US commercial crude oil inventories rose 3.5M bbls w-o-w to a record 397.7M bbls, in the week ending 18 April, US Energy Information Administration data shows. Crude imports fell 475K b/d from the prior week’s 7-month high to average 7.8M b/d. Refinery inputs increased 367K b/d from the previous week’s average to 16.0M b/d, with refineries now operating at 91.0% capacity.
PMI still showing contraction in China
The HSBC Flash China Purchasing Managers’ Index for manufacturing rose slightly in April 2013 to 48.3, up from 48.0 in March. Significantly, however, the PMI remains below the benchmark of 50, indicating a contraction in activity for a fourth consecutive month.
The Markit Flash Eurozone Composite PMI reached a 35-month high of 54.0 in April, up from 53.1 in March, with the Eurozone manufacturing PMI at a three month high of 53.3. The Markit Flash US manufacturing PMI fell slightly in April, down 0.1 month-on-month to 55.4.
South Korean Coal Imports
South Korea imported 10.3 Mt of coal in March 2013, down 3% year-on-year, according to data from McCloskey. Imports of steam coal (incl. anthracite) fell by 6% year-on-year to 8.1 Mt, with reduced shipments from Australia (-17% to 2.5 Mt) and Russia (-16% to 1.2 Mt). However, coking coal imports rose by 8% year-on-year, to 2.2 Mt as the country’s steel output increased.
Chinese Minor Bulk Imports
Combined imports of fertilisers, wood pulp, steel scrap, alumina, bauxite as well as nickel, copper and chromium ores totalled 10.1 Mt in March 2014, falling 2.0 Mt month-on-month to their lowest level in 3 years, according to official data. This is also less than half the record high of 21.8 Mt achieved in January 2014. This decline is primarily due to imports of bauxite and nickel ore being cut by Indonesia’s implementation of a ban on the export of unprocessed mineral ores in mid-January 2014.
Indian Iron Ore
Indian media reports the lifting of the iron ore mining ban in Goa, which had been in place for 10 months, by the country’s Supreme Court. However, a state government source quoted by Reuters cautioned that requirements for environmental licenses would mean mining “should start somewhere in January 2015.” The Supreme Court has limited annual production to 20.0 Mt.
World Steel Production
World steel production for the 65 countries reporting to the World Steel Association totalled 141.3 Mt in March 2014, up 2.7% year-on-year. EU steel production rose by 6.8% in March, to 15.4 Mt, driven primarily by growth in Germany (+6.1% to 4.0 Mt) and Italy (+8.0% to 2.4 Mt). Steel mills in China produced 70.3 Mt, up 2.2% annually while South Korean output increased strongly (+8.0% to 6.1 Mt). North American steel output grew moderately in March, up 1.7% to 10.3 Mt, with only marginal growth reported in the US (+0.9% to 7.4 Mt).
China’s imports of Iranian crude increase
China’s imports of Iranian crude oil in March were up 36.1% y-o-y at 557K b/d, according to China’s General Administration of Customs, Reuters reports. Overall, imports from the Middle East (including South Sudan and Yemen) were up 12.5% from the previous year at 3.03M b/d. Imports from Angola, China’s second largest supplier fell 9.24% y-o-y to 732K b/d.
Indian 1Q14 imports of Iranian crude rise y-o-y
India’s imports of Iranian crude oil in 1Q14 were up 42.9% y-o-y at around 358k b/d, according to estimates by Reuters. Despite the rise, Reuters estimate that Indian crude imports from Iran in the 2013/2014 fiscal year were down 16.5% at 222k b/d.
US Grain Exports
Combined exports of corn, soyabeans and wheat from the US experienced their lowest week since September 2013 in the week ending 10 April, the US Department of Agriculture reports. Total weekly exports of 2.01 Mt compare with 2.47 Mt the previous week and show a particularly pronounced fall in soyabean outbound shipments.
Chinese Crude Steel Production
China produced 70.3 Mt of crude steel in March 2014, up 1.6 Mt year-on-year and an all-time high, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. This contrasts with China Iron and Steel Association data for March which showed a daily output rate 1.6% lower than the November average. Daily crude steel output for 1-10 April 2014 recorded at 2.152 Mt, up from 2.073 Mt in 21-31 March. This is the highest level since late September 2013 and compares with 2.124 for the same period in 2013.
China’s GDP grew by 7.4% year-on-year in 1q14, down from 7.7% in 4q13 and marking an 18 month low, according to data from the Chinese National Bureau of Statistics. The government’s official 2014 GDP growth target is 7.5%. The Chinese premier Li Keqiang was quoted in state media saying that, in order to stimulate the economy, the reserve ratio for small banks will be cut and tax breaks designed to engineer job creation implemented, reports Reuters. This is in addition to tax breaks and greater infrastructure investment announced earlier this month.
US Steel Price Surge
According to the latest World Steel Dynamics’ SteelBenchmarker, the world export price for hot rolled band edged up $1/t at the start of April, to $551/t. Over the same period US HRB prices surged by $37/t, to 749/t, the highest price since the end of April 2012. Chinese HRB rose by $11/t to $459/t, while the price for Western Europe rose slightly, up $2/t, to $595/t.
Ukrainian Grain Exports
Interfax-Ukraine reports that Ukraine has exported 28.5 Mt of grain in the 2013/2014 marketing year (Jul-Jun) to date, up 8.4 Mt year-on-year, according to the Ukrainian Agrarian Policy and Food Ministry. This includes 18.1 Mt of corn and 8.0 Mt of wheat. Combined grain exports for the 2013/2014 marketing year are forecast to total 33.0 Mt.
As part of national efforts to reduce industrial overcapacity and combat pollution in China’s industrial heartlands, the government of the northern Chinese city of Tianjin has said it will not approve construction of any new steel, cement or non-ferrous metal plants, reports Reuters. This echoes similar stances by the governments of neighbouring Hebei province and Beijing. Tianjin and Hebei produced in excess of 200 Mt of crude steel in 2013 and are under instruction to close at least 60 Mt of low-quality steel plants over the next 2 years, although idle capacity in the region is estimated to be near 100 Mt.
South Korea’s crude imports increase y-o-y in March
South Korean imports of crude oil in March increased by 3.0% y-o-y to 2.4M b/d, according to preliminary customs data, Reuters reports. However, imports were down 7.2% m-o-m as some refiners in the country begin shutdowns for maintenance.
Norway’s oil production rises y-o-y in March
Norway’s oil production was up 6.0% y-o-y but down 1.5% m-o-m at 1.52M b/d in March, according to the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate. A new oil and gas production stream also started in early April as the Gudrun oil field came online according to Oil and Gas journal.
Russian Grain Exports
Dow Jones Newswire reports that Russia exported 21.5 Mt of grain in the 2013/2014 (Jul-Jun) marketing year to date, up 48% year-on-year, according to the Russian agriculture ministry. This includes 16.0 Mt of wheat, 3.2 Mt of corn and 2.1 Mt of barley. The agriculture ministry expects combined exports for 2013/14 to total 22.0 Mt.
EU Industrial Production
Industrial production in the EU-28 countries rose by 2.1% year-on-year in February 2014, while that of the Eurozone rose by 1.7% over the same period, according to data from Eurostat. German industrial production grew by 4.0% year-on-year in February while France’s declined by -1.0%.
IEA trims global oil demand growth forecast
The International Energy Agency (IEA) in its latest monthly report has marginally trimmed its global oil demand forecast for 2014 to 92.7M b/d, due to downward revisions in Russian demand. Global oil supplies in March were estimated to have plunged 1.2M b/d m-o-m to 91.75M b/d as OPEC cut production but supplies were up 1.1M b/d y-o-y as higher non-OPEC supply offset declines.
Brazilian Corn and Soyabean Production Forecasts
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has revised up its production forecast for Brazilian corn by 2.0 Mt from March’s forecast. Total 2013/2014 production is now anticipated to be 72.0 Mt, down 9.5 Mt from 2012/2013. Brazilian soyabean production for 2013/2014 has been revised down 1.0 Mt to 87.5 Mt, however this is still up 5.5 Mt on 2012/2013.
Chinese Daily Crude Steel Production
The China Iron and Steel Association puts Chinese daily crude steel output for 21-31 March at 2.073 Mt, down from 2.096 in the period 11-20 March. This compares with a daily output of 2.072 for the same period in March 2013.
China’s crude imports fall to 5-month low in March
China’s crude oil imports declined to a 5-month low of 5.56M b/d in March but were up 2.0% y-o-y, according to China’s General Administration of Customs. Oil product imports rose 3.4% y-o-y to 2.74Mt the highest volume since May 2013, while oil product imports fell 24.3% y-o-y to their lowest levels since August 2012, at 2.37Mt.