Asia’s crude imports from Iran hit three-year high in 2014
China, India, Japan and South Korea’s imports of Iranian crude in 2014 rose by 19.8% y-o-y to average a three year high of 1.21M b/d, Reuters reports citing government and tanker arrival data. Higher imports from China and India more than offset y-o-y declines in Japan and South Korea’s intake. Imports in December were up 22.1% y-o-y at 1.21M b/d, the highest since May. This was due to a surge in deliveries to India and higher seasonal winter demand.
Japanese Steel Data
Japanese steel exports rose to a nine-month high of 3.8 Mt in December 2014, up 8% year-on-year, according to the Japan Iron and Steel Federation. However, despite this strong end to the year, 2014’s export total was still down 3% on 2013 at 42.1 Mt. 2014 saw falls in exports to Japan’s key markets of South Korea (-7% to 7.3 Mt), Taiwan (-11% to 3.4 Mt) and China (-3% to 5.9 Mt), although there were increases in shipments to the Middle East (+9% to 1.8 Mt), the US (+9% to 2.6 Mt) and South America (+12% to 2.7 Mt).
Japanese automobile production (incl. cars, trucks & buses) fell by 2.5% year-on-year in December, to 767 thousand units, according to the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association. However, despite this fall in output at the end of the year, total 2014 production was up 1.5% on 2013 at 9,775 thousand units. There was a contrasting picture for automobile exports which were up 0.5% in December, at 381 thousand units, but down 4.5% for 2014 as a whole, at 4,466 thousand units.
China Daily Crude Steel Output
Daily crude steel production at China Iron and Steel Association (CISA) member mills fell to 1.69 Mt in the period 11-20 January, down from 1.79 in the first 10 days of the month, according to data from the industry association reported by SteelFirst. This is the lowest daily total since mid-November when output was 1.64 Mt.
US Weekly Grain Exports
US exports of corn, wheat and soyabeans combined rose to a five-week high of 2.91 Mt in the week ending 22 January, up from 2.67 Mt in the preceding week, according to data from the US Department of Agriculture. Weekly corn exports rose to their highest level since early October 2014, at 0.94 Mt, while shipments of wheat and soyabeans totalled 0.34 and 1.63 Mt, respectively.
World Steel Prices Continue Falling
The domestic price of Chinese hot rolled band (HRB) plunged in the second half of January, falling $31/t from the mid-month level and $114/t from a year ago to $361/t, according to the latest World Steel Dynamics SteelBenchmarker. There were similarly sharp falls in US and Western European HRB prices which both fell by $30/t, to $640/t and $457/t, respectively.
US crude inventories surge to record high
US crude oil inventories increased by 8.9M bbls w-o-w to a record 406.7M bbls in the week ending 23 January, the US Energy Information Administration said. This includes i) a 5.5M bbl w-o-w jump in Gulf Coast crude stocks to 202.3M bbls, the highest since June 2014, ii) a 2.1M bbl climb in Cushing, Oklahoma stocks to 38.9M bbls, the highest since January 2014 and iii) a 1.1M bbls rise in Midwest crude stocks to a record 120M bbls. Total US crude stocks have now increased by 24.3M bbls since the start of January. US crude refinery runs were up 347K b/d from the previous week at an average of 15.3M b/d, with refineries operating at 88% of capacity. Notably, this is the first time they have spent consecutive weeks operating below 90% since October. US crude imports rose by 204K b/d w-o-w to average 7.2M b/d. US distillate fuel oil stocks dropped by 3.9M bbls from the previous week to total 132.7M bbls. This was driven by a 3.2M bbls decline in Gulf Coast stocks to 43.1M bbls. US total gasoline inventories fell 2.6M bbls w-o-w to 238.3M bbls, including a 1.7M bbls reduction in East Coast supplies.
Russia’s Urals crude exports from Baltic ports set to fall
Russia’s exports of Urals crude oil in February from its Baltic ports are set to fall by 5% m-o-m to 193K tonnes a day (1.41M b/d), Reuters reports, citing a preliminary loading schedule. This includes loadings from Primorsk of 864K b/d and loadings from Ust Luga of 550K b/d.
Japanese Trade Data
Japan imported 136.4 Mt of iron ore in 2014, up 0.5% year-on-year, according to official data. This total was pushed higher by a strong end to the year with December imports up 8.7% on the same month in 2013, at 12.1 Mt. In contrast, Japanese coal imports fell 1.7% in 2014, to 188.4 Mt, with volumes in December down 5.2% year-on-year at 16.6 Mt.
West Africa’s crude exports to Asia scheduled to decline in February
West African exports of crude oil to Asia in February are expected to fall to by 90K b/d to their lowest since May at 1.7M b/d, Argus reports. The fall includes a scheduled drop in China’s loadings of West African crude to 922K b/d, down from a revised 1.22M b/d in January and the lowest since September 2013. Firmer demand from India, Taiwan and Indonesia helped to partially offset the fall in Chinese demand.
US grain exports in the 4q14 hit a record
Recent trade data from the US Department of Agricultural indicate that the 4q14 saw a new quarterly high for the country’s grain exports, up by 6.1% on the previous peak in the 4q13, to approximately 47.0 Mt. This was been supported by a surge in the country’s soyabean shipments. According to customs statistics data released today, China imported 12.7 Mt of US soyabeans in the 4q14, up by 30% year-on-year,
Chinese trade data
Data released today show that of China’s record 933.2 Mt of iron ore imports in 2014 some 59% was sourced from Australia, as volumes leapt to 548.4 Mt from 417.1 Mt in 2013. Brazil’s share declined slightly to 18% (171 Mt), despite increased volumes, while India’s share shrank to less than 1% (7.9 Mt). South Africa remained China’s third largest supplier at 5% (43.6 Mt) but lost market share in 2014.
China’s combined imports of bauxite, alumina, fertiliser, steel scrap and wood pulp plus nickel, manganese, copper and chromium ores fell by 57.4 Mt (or 27%) year-on-year to 157.2 Mt in 2014. This was the lowest annual total in the past three years, with the decline primarily due to sharp falls in bauxite and nickel ore volumes, down 58.5 Mt (or 41%) on 2013 to a 4-year low of 84.3 Mt.
China’s crude imports from the Middle East rise in 2014
China’s imports of crude oil from the Middle East in 2014 rose by 329K b/d y-o-y to average 3.34M b/d, according to the country’s General Administration of Customs. The rise came despite an 84K b/d y-o-y fall in imports from Saudi Arabia to 998K b/d, with higher imports from Iraq, Iran and Oman more than compensating for the decline. Imports from West Africa climbed 87K b/d y-o-y to average 1.15M b/d. This was driven by smaller nominal increases in imports from a range of oil exporters in the region, with China’s largest source of West Africa crude, Angola, only registering a 15K b/d y-o-y increase to 818K b/d. Imports from Latin America and the Caribbean, were up 108K b/d y-o-y at 665K b/d, as lower imports from Venezuela were outweighed by higher volumes from Colombia and Brazil. Meanwhile, Russian exports to China surged 174K b/d y-o-y to 665K b/d.
US crude inventories surge as crude runs fall
US crude oil inventories increased by 10M bbls w-o-w to total 397.9M bbls in the week ending 16 January, the US Energy Information Administration said. This is the highest total since May. Midwest crude stocks jumped up 7.29M bbls w-o-w to a record 118.9M bbls. US crude refinery inputs were down 984K b/d from the previous week at an average of 14.9M b/d, the lowest since October 2013. This follows drops in refinery throughputs of more than 300K b/d in the Midwest and over 400K b/d in the Gulf Coast. Notably, a number of US refineries were temporarily closed during the period due to cold weather and a number of fires, Reuters reports. Total US crude imports were down 274K b/d w-o-w at 7.2M b/d.
World Steel Production in 2014
Crude steel production for the 65 countries reporting to the World Steel Association totalled 1,637.0 Mt in 2014, up 1.1% year-on-year. EU steel output rose by 1.8%, to 169.2 Mt, with production growth in Germany (+0.7% to 42.9 Mt) and France (+2.9% to 16.1 Mt), although output in Italy (-1.4% to 23.7 Mt) fell. US steel production grew 1.7% to 88.3 Mt in 2014, while output in Russia saw a stronger increase of 2.6%, to 70.7 Mt. In Asia, South Korean steel production grew 7.5%, to 71.0 Mt, while in Japan there was a slight increase to 110.7 Mt. As previously reported, China produced 822.7 Mt of crude steel in 2014, up 0.9% year-on-year.
South Korean Coal Imports
South Korea imported 130.8 Mt of coal in 2014, up from 126.5 Mt in 2013, according to data from McCloskey. Coking coal imports were up 13% on 2013 at 29.9 Mt, with imports in December up 5% year-on-year at 2.2 Mt. Imports of steam coal and anthracite combined were up 15% year-on-year in December at 9.3 Mt, with imports for the whole of 2014 up 1% at 100.9 Mt.
Richards Bay Coal Exports
Richards Bay Coal Terminal (RBCT) exported 71.3 Mt of coal in 2014, up from 70.2 Mt in 2013 and an all-time high, according to terminal authority data reported by Reuters. However, this was still below the target of 73.0 Mt it had set for shipments in 2014.
Canadian Iron Ore Exports
Canadian iron ore exports (excl. cargoes to the US) fell to an eight-month low of 2.7 Mt in November 2014, down 8% year-on-year, according to the Tex Report. In spite of this, total exports in the period January-November were still up 6% on the same 11 months in 2013 at 34.2 Mt.
Venezuela’s oil exports fall in 2014
Venezuela’s oil exports fell to 2.33M b/d in 2014, down from 2.43M b/d in the previous year, Reuters reports, citing the country’s oil minister Asdrubal Chavez. Meanwhile, Colombia’s oil output in 2015 is expected to rise by 3% y-o-y to 1.02M b/d, said the ACP association of oil producers. However, production is expected to decline to 785K b/d by 2018.
Chinese GDP Grows 7.4% in 2014
Chinese GDP growth slowed to 7.4% in 2014, below the official target of 7.5% and the slowest rate of growth since 1990, according to official data reported by Reuters. China recorded GDP growth of 7.7% in 2013. Growth in the 4q14 was 7.3%, the same as the 4q13, and was boosted by strong December industrial production (+7.9%) and retail sales (+11.9%) data.
Chinese Steel Crude Steel Output
China produced 822.7 Mt of crude steel in 2014, up 0.9% year-on-year, according to official data. China’s December steel output was a four-month high of 68.1 Mt, up 1.5% on the same month in 2013.
South African Steam Coal Exports
Steam coal exports from South Africa fell to a three-month low of 6.1 Mt in November 2014, although they were still up 5% year-on-year, according to official data reported by IHS. Reflecting the changing pattern of South Africa’s coal trade, exports to India of 2.6 Mt were up 60% year-on-year. In contrast, shipments to Europe were down 18% in November, at 1.6 Mt, while the same month saw zero exports to China compared with 1.2 Mt in November 2013. Total South African exports for the period January-November totalled 67.6 Mt, up 3% on the same period in 2013.
China’s crude runs hit record
China’s crude oil refinery throughputs in December hit a record 10.54M b/d, according to the country’s National Bureau of Statistics. The volume is up 218K b/d m-o-m and 624K b/d y-o-y. For 2014, crude runs averaged a record 10.01M b/d, up 509K b/d y-o-y.
Chinese Economic Update
The decline in average new home prices in China continued in December, falling 4.3% year-on-year compared with a decline of 3.7% in November, according to National Bureau of Statistics data reported by Reuters. Home prices fell in 68 of the 70 major Chinese cities surveyed, although property sales reached the highest levels of 2014 in December.
Pilbara Ports Close
Port Hedland and Port Dampier have commenced port and anchorage evacuation procedures and are to close in advance of a potential tropical cyclone that is forecast to develop over the evening and night of 19 January, according to the Pilbara Ports Authority. This is anticipated to be a relatively short closure due to the predicted low intensity of the forecast storm.
India’s crude imports from Iran surge y-o-y in December
India’s imports of crude oil from Iran in December surged by 84% y-o-y to a nine-month high of 349K b/d, Reuters reports, citing tanker arrival data. Total imports jumped by 9.4% from the previous year to average 3.84M b/d. Across 2014, India’s crude imports from Iran were up 42% y-o-y at 277K b/d (despite total imports edging downwards by 1.4% y-o-y to 3.81M b/d).