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Commodities

Goldman Sachs discusses what’s next for natural gas prices

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Over the past three weeks, US prices have surged 30% to above $2.50 per million British thermal units (mm/BTU), fueled by production declines and increased feedgas demand for liquified natural gas (LNG) exports.

Moreover, recent producer cuts, maintenance events, and Freeport LNG’s normalization of gas demand post-outage have contributed to this rise. Cheniere’s announcement of no heavy maintenance for its liquefaction trains this year also supports higher prices.

In a Thursday note, Goldman Sachs strategists said the return of gas prices above $2/mmBtu aligns with their expectations, as production curtailments “would ultimately lead to lower storage congestion risks for this summer.”

“That said, we see only limited further upside from current levels, with stronger gas prices risking a return of congestion concerns,” they added.

Goldman notes that prices above $2/mmBtu reduce gas competitiveness compared to coal, with a $0.50/mmBtu increase potentially cutting gas demand by 1 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d), especially in shoulder months.

Moreover, higher prices may prompt the restart of previously shut-in wells. EQT (ST:), the largest producer in the Appalachia region, indicated it would resume production if prices sustainably exceed $1.50/mmBtu. And while Appalachia prices haven’t risen as much as NYMEX, the local hub has averaged $1.44/mmBtu month-to-date, up 10¢ from last month, strategists highlighted.

Elsewhere, European gas prices have also risen this summer, though less sharply than in the US.

Title Transfer Facility (TTF) prices increased 18% over the past three months to around 30 euros per megawatt-hour (MWh), holding steady in May.

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However, unlike the US market, this rally lacks fundamental support, with Northwest (NW) European gas storage at record-high levels, Goldman strategists pointed out.

“To be sure, NW European LNG imports have remained weak relative to last year – and are likely to get weaker in the coming weeks owing to a seasonal decline in global LNG production, exacerbated by outages at Australia’s Gorgon export project,” they said.

“Going forward, we expect healthy non-European demand for LNG to continue to incentivize a decline in European LNG imports vs last year,” they continued.

Commodities

Oil edges up as summer demand hopes offset downbeat China data

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By Alex Lawler

LONDON (Reuters) -Oil edged higher on Monday as hopes for a boost to demand from the summer driving season in the northern hemisphere offset Chinese data that underscored a bumpy recovery for the world’s biggest crude importer.

Apart from retail sales that beat forecasts due to a holiday boost, the flurry of Chinese data on Monday was largely downbeat. The data followed a survey on Friday showing U.S. consumer sentiment fell to a seven-month low in June.

Global benchmark futures were up 33 cents, or 0.4%, to $82.95 a barrel at 1212 GMT. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures gained 25 cents, or 0.3%, to $78.70.

Last week, both benchmarks posted their first weekly gain in four weeks on elevated confidence that oil inventories are set to plunge as the summer season gets under way in the northern hemisphere amid continued OPEC+ supply cuts.

“The market initially responded negatively to mixed data from China,” said Ole Hansen of Saxo Bank.

“But the outlook for strong fuel demand into the coming quarter and Saudi reassurance about the October hike being subject to prevailing conditions and added focus on quota breakers to bring production down and into line all seems to be supporting.”

Saudi Arabia has said OPEC+’s planned fourth-quarter increase in output can be can paused or reversed if needed. Russia and Iraq, which have been pumping more than their OPEC+ quotas, pledged last week to meet their obligations.

Reports from OPEC and the International Energy Agency last week, although differing on the strength of oil demand growth this year, had supported confidence that inventories would be drawn down in the second half.

Still, BofA analysts said in a report that while the market consensus is for higher oil prices in the third quarter, there is a risk to prices if weak supply and demand balances persist.

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A view shows oil tanks of Transneft oil pipeline operator at the crude oil terminal Kozmino on the shore of Nakhodka Bay near the port city of Nakhodka, Russia August 12, 2022. REUTERS/Tatiana Meel/File Photo

“It is not yet clear whether balances will firm enough in the third quarter to tip the market from a large apparent surplus into a deficit that can lift prices,” BofA analysts including Francisco Blanch wrote.

On the geopolitical front, concerns of a wider Middle East war lingered after the Israeli military said on Sunday that intensified cross-border fire from Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement into Israel could trigger serious escalation.

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Commodities

Record copper prices likely to pause U.S. scrap shipments to China

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By Pratima Desai and Julian Luk

LONDON (Reuters) – China’s scrap imports have soared due to shortages of concentrate that is processed into refined metal used in the power and construction industries, but record high prices mean U.S. shipments are likely to pause.

Smelters in top copper consumer China have faced concentrate shortages since last year when First Quantum (NASDAQ:) lost the right to operate its Cobre mine in Panama, which accounted for 1% of global mined supply in 2022.

China’s copper waste and scrap imports overall climbed 25% to 783,004 tonnes in the first four months of this year compared to the same period in 2023, according to Trade Data Monitor (TDM).

TDM data also shows China’s scrap imports from the United States jumped 37% to 153,059 tonnes in January to April this year from the same period last year.

Copper scrap from the U.S. is priced at a discount to the CME price, which hit a record $5.1985 a lb or $11,460 a tonne on May 20 due to parties which had sold futures being forced to buy them back or roll over positions.

“Chinese buyers are deferring U.S. copper scrap shipments,” a source at a Chinese trading firm said, adding that China’s top scrap supplier was the United States.

The source said some Chinese buyers were looking to price U.S. scrap against copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME), trading at a discount to CME prices.

Deteriorating production at other mines, many in Latin America, has exacerbated concentrate shortages and Chinese smelters have imported more copper scrap to feed their furnaces and protect their margins.

China is home to half of the world’s copper smelters and the largest buyer of raw materials including concentrates and scrap.

Scrap typically accounts for about 9 million tonnes or roughly 30% of global copper supplies annually.

“Due to concentrate tightness copper smelters are processing more scrap and blister,” said Macquarie analyst Alice Fox.

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A worker loads copper cathodes into a warehouse near Yangshan Deep Water Port, south of Shanghai March 23, 2012. REUTERS/Carlos Barria/ File Photo

“Given the cost of physical collection and processing – during periods of significant price movement, scrap tonnages on a contained copper basis can move by up to one million tonnes per annum, effectively rebalancing the market during periods of high or low prices.”

Macquarie expects the gap between copper supply and demand to widen to 1.6 million tonnes in 2030 from a deficit around 86,000 tonnes this year.

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Commodities

Crude oil edges higher; tone constructive despite weak Chinese data

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Investing.com — Oil prices edged higher Monday, continuing the previous week’s upbeat note despite some bumpy data out of China, the world’s biggest importer. 

By 08:35 ET (12.35 GMT), the futures traded 0.5% higher at $78.41 a barrel and the contract climbed 0.4% to $82.97 a barrel. 

Gains follow a winning week

The crude benchmarks recorded a winning week last week, their first in four weeks, buoyed by expectations that the Northern Hemisphere summer vacation season will boost fuel demand this summer. 

The monthly reports by both the and the , released last week, had pointed to inventories being drawn down in the second half of the year, even as they differed about the level of demand growth.

China data largely disappoints

That said, this positive tone has been tested by uneven economic data out of China, pointing to a stuttering recovery in the second largest economy in the world.

came in ahead of expectations in May, helped by a holiday boost, but May grew 5.6% from a year earlier, slowing from the 6.7% pace in April and below expectations for a 6.0% increase.

Additionally, crude oil refinery output in China fell 1.8% year-on-year in May, primarily due to planned/unplanned maintenance outages and curtailed processing rates on account of higher crude oil prices and lower margins. 

Middle East tensions provide support

Providing a degree of support were the continued concerns of a wider Middle East war, after the Israeli military said on Sunday that intensified cross-border fire from Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement into Israel could trigger serious escalation.

Additionally, weekly data from showed that U.S. oil rigs fell by four rigs for a third straight week over the last week, with the total oil rig count reaching 488 for the week ended 14 June 2024. 

“This is the lowest number of active oil rigs since the first week of January 2022, and is down by 64 rigs from a year ago,” analysts at ING said, in a note, pointing to weaker supply going forward.

There is little on the energy calendar this week – just the usual weekly U.S. inventory reports from the and the .

Traders are also likely to pay attention to speeches from a number of Federal Reserve officials as they try to judge the likely path of U.S. interest rates this year, given the likely impact of this on activity in the world’s largest economy.

 

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