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Asia’s imports of Iranian crude hit year-to-date high
Imports of Iranian crude by China, India, Japan and South Korea in May averaged 1.21M b/d, the highest since December 2014, Reuters reports, citing government and tanker tracking data. However, this is down from imports of 1.23M b/d in May 2014. The y-o-y fall in overall purchases was the result of lower Chinese imports, which dropped by almost a third to 518K b/d.
South Korean Iron Ore Imports
South Korea’s iron ore imports fell 8% year-on-year in May, to 5.9 Mt, as shipments from Brazil dropped sharply, official data shows. Imports from Brazil fell by nearly 50% to 1.0 Mt in May, while shipments from Australia were unchanged at 4.3 Mt. Imports in January-May were down 2% year-on-year at 30.5 Mt.
Japanese Car Production
Japanese passenger car production fell 18% year-on-year in May to 0.54 million units, according to data from the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association. This is the eleventh consecutive month output has fallen. Passenger car exports fell 11% year-on-year in May to 0.25 million units on weak demand in all export markets outside of North America.
People’s Bank of China Cuts Interest Rates
In an apparent reaction to falls in the Shanghai Composite, China’s central bank has cut benchmark one-year lending rates by 0.25 percentage points on Saturday to 4.85%, the fourth such cut since November, Reuters reports. Lending rates are now 1.15 percentage points below the year-ago level. The central bank also cut one-year deposit rates by 0.25 percentage points, to 2.0%, and the required reserve ratio for larger banks by 1.0 percentage point to 18.5%.
Japanese Steel Exports
Japan’s steel exports fell to a three-month low of 3.5 Mt in May, down 1% year-on-year, according to the Japan Iron and Steel Federation. Shipments to China fell slightly in May, to 0.5 Mt, while there was a larger drop in exports to other destinations in Asia (-8% to 2.0 Mt). In contrast, steel shipments to the Middle East (+95% to 0.2 Mt), North America (+14% to 0.3 Mt) and Latin America (+7% to 0.2 Mt) all rose.
Mexico’s long-haul crude exports rise in May
Mexico's crude oil exports to Asia in May jumped by 140K b/d m-o-m and 148K b/d y-o-y to 222K b/d, the second highest volume in more than a decade, data from state oil firm Pemex shows. Exports to Europe rose by 58K b/d m-o-m and were marginally higher y-o-y at 241K b/d. Exports to the Americas slipped by 118K b/d m-o-m and 153K b/d y-o-y to a multi-decade low of 651K b/d. Overall, Mexican exports of crude oil in May increased by 79K b/d m-o-m to average 1.11M b/d, down by 2K b/d compared with May 2014.
Chinese Iron Ore Imports Breakdown
Annual increases in Chinese iron ore imports from Australia (+0.5 Mt to 45.9 Mt) and Brazil (+1.0 Mt to 13.4 Mt) meant they accounted for 84% of China’s imports in May, up from 75% in May 2014, according to China Customs data. Imports from West Africa fell 2.2 Mt to 1.1 Mt, while imports from Iran (-1.6 Mt to 0.9 Mt) and India (-1.3 Mt to 0.02 Mt) also fell.
Russian crude exports from Western ports set to fall in July
Russia’s crude oil exports from Baltic ports are scheduled to fall 13% m-o-m to 1.7M b/d, Argus reports. Exports of Urals crude from Baltic ports are expected to fall 22% m-o-m to 1.18M b/d, with terminal maintenance scheduled at Primorsk for 7-13 July and at Ust Luga for 14-21 July. Crude exports from Novorossiysk on the Black Sea are expected to increase by 16% m-o-m to 585K b/d (which includes four cargoes of Siberian Light).
Japan’s JX set to increase crude processing m-o-m in July
Japan’s largest refiner JX Nippon Oil and Energy Corporation announced on Friday that it expected to increase crude processing for domestic use in July to 954K b/d, up from 803K b/d in June, Reuters reports. This is down by 1% from the same period a year ago. The company also noted that it expected to restart a fire-hit crude distillation unit at its Kashima refinery soon.   
Nigeria’s crude exports expected to rise in August
Nigeria’s crude exports appear set to rise m-o-m in August, Argus reports. Provisional loading programmes show 64 cargoes for June or 1.89M b/d, with the Bonny Light programme yet to be published. This compares with 66 cargoes in July or 1.97M b/d.
Canadian Iron Ore Exports
Canada exported 2.5 Mt of iron ore in April (excl. cargoes to the US), down 11% year-on-year, according to the Tex Report. Significantly, shipments to China dropped to less than a third of their year-ago level at 0.3 Mt, however, exports to Japan and South Korea both increased. Iron ore exports for January-April were down 1% on the same period in 2014 at 10.1 Mt.
South Korean Coal Imports
South Korean coal imports fell to a six-month low of 10.7 Mt in May, according to customs data. However, import volumes in the first five months of the year were 56.4 Mt, up 2.2 Mt on the year-ago level. Most of the additional coal was sourced from Russia (+2.6 Mt to 8.3 Mt), minimising the positive effect on tonne-mile demand.
Chinese Steel Price Continues to Fall
The Chinese domestic price for hot rolled band (HRB) dropped $14/t over the period 10-24 June to $307/t, according to the latest SteelBenchmarker from World Steel Dynamics. It is now down $144/t year-on-year. This contributed to a fall of $9/t in the world export price for HRB to $374/t over the same period. Meanwhile, the US and Western European domestic prices for HRB both fell by $1/t to $513/t and $428/t.
US Steel Imports
US steel imports fell to a 14-month low of 3.1 Mt in May, down 16% year-on-year, according to preliminary trade data from the US Census Bureau. Nevertheless, steel imports for January-May were up 6% on the same five months in 2014 at 16.8 Mt.
US crude stocks continue to fall amid strong crude runs
US crude oil inventories fell by 4.9M bbls w-o-w to total 463M bbls in the week ending 19 June, according to the US Energy Information Administration. However, this is still up by 74.9M bbls compared with the same week in 2014. US crude runs rose by 250K b/d w-o-w and 860K b/d y-o-y to average 16.5M b/d. US East Coast crude runs increased by 63K b/d w-o-w to 1.22M b/d, the highest since September 2011. US crude imports fell by 302K b/d from the prior week to average 6.8M b/d.
Russia’s refinery runs edge up m-o-m in May but fall y-o-y
Russia’s crude oil refinery throughputs in May increased by 2.9% m-o-m to average 5.7M b/d, Reuters reports, citing data from the country’s Energy Ministry. However, this was down by 1.9% compared to the same month last year. Gasoline output was the only major product to experience a y-o-y increase, up 3.7% (and 6.7% m-o-m) to 884K b/d. Gasoil output increased by 5.4% m-o-m but fell by 2.5% y-o-y to 1.5M b/d.
Chinese Flash Manufacturing PMI
The HSBC Flash China Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), compiled by Markit, rose to 49.6 in June, up from a final May PMI reading of 49.2 and marking a three month high. However, with another reading below 50, this would make June the fourth successive month of contraction in the Chinese manufacturing sector. The Flash Japanese Manufacturing PMI dropped to 49.9 in June, down from a final May reading of 50.9, while the flash manufacturing PMI reading for the Eurozone rose to a 14-month high of 52.5.
China Daily Crude Steel Output
Daily crude steel production at China Iron and Steel Association member mills dropped to 1.74 Mt in the first ten days of June, down from 1.77 Mt/day in the period 21-31 May, according to data from the industry association reported by SteelFirst. This compares with 1.83 Mt/day for the same period in 2014.
World Steel Output Falls
Crude steel production for the 65 countries reporting to the World Steel Association fell 2.1% year-on-year to 139.3 Mt in May as most major steel producing countries saw output fall, while production in the first five months of 2015 was down 1.9% at 675.6 Mt. Both the US (-8.5% to 6.8 Mt) and Russia (-1.9% to 6.1 Mt) saw steel output fall year-on-year in May and, as previously reported, production was also down in Japan (-7.0% to 8.9 Mt) and China (-1.7% to 70.0 Mt). Although EU steel production rose 0.7% in May to 15.1 Mt, output in Germany, the blocs largest producer, fell 5.4% to 3.7 Mt. However, Indian steel output continued to reverse the overall trend in May, increasing by 4.0% to 7.7 Mt.
India’s crude runs hit five-month high
India’s refineries in May processed 4.7M b/d of crude oil, up 483K b/d m-o-m and 338K b/d y-o-y, data from the country’s Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell shows. Over the first five months of 2015, India’s crude refinery inputs have averaged 4.5M b/d, up 60K b/d y-o-y.
JX to restart Kashima refinery in July
Japanese refiner JX plans to restarts it 189K b/d Kashima refinery next month after a fire caused it to close the plant on 29 May, Argus reports. The crude processing unit will be restarted in early July followed by the secondary units.
Japanese Crude Steel Output Falls
Japanese crude steel output fell 7.0% year-on-year in May to 8.9 Mt, according to data from the Japan Iron and Steel Federation. Steel production for the period January-May was down 4.4% on the same period in 2014 at 44.1 Mt.
Chinese Iron Ore Port Stockpiles
The fall in Chinese iron ore stockpiles continued this week with volumes at 18 portside locations monitored by U-metal dropping to their lowest level since mid-October 2013 on 19 June at 70.5 Mt, down 33.9 Mt year-on-year.
Exports of Siberian Light rise
Siberian Light crude exports from Russia’s Black Sea port of Novorossiysk in January-May almost doubled y-o-y to 102K b/d, Argus reports. The average monthly export level so far in 2015 is the highest in four years and is due to higher supplies from smaller producers.
Colombian pipeline closed following attack
Colombia’s 210K b/d Cano Limon to Covenas oil pipeline was closed on Wednesday following a bomb explosion, Reuters reports. Currently the damage is not expected to affect the country’s crude exports as there are adequate stocks at ports.
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