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Tokyo June heatwave worst since 1875 as power supply creaks under strain

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© Reuters. The interior of Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) building is dimly lit to save electricity during daytime as Japanese government issues warning over possible power crunch in Tokyo, Japan June 27, 2022. REUTERS/Issei Kato

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By Sakura Murakami and Elaine Lies

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan baked under scorching temperatures for a fourth successive day on Tuesday, as the capital’s heat broke nearly 150-year-old records for June and authorities warned power supply remained tight enough to raise the spectre of cuts.

A high of 36 C was predicted for Tokyo on Tuesday, after three successive days of temperatures topping 35 C – the worst streak of hot weather in June since records began in 1875.

Cases of hospitalisation from heatstroke rose early in the day, with many in the capital continue to flout government advice by continuing to wear face masks outdoors – a legacy of more than two years of the COVID-19 pandemic.

For a second day, authorities asked consumers in the Tokyo area to conserve electricity to avoid a looming power cut. The heatwave comes less than two weeks before a national election in which surging prices – including electricity – are rated the top concern for voters in opinion polls that show the government’s approval rating slipping.

As of 9:00 a.m. local time (0000 GMT), 13 people had been taken to hospital with suspected heatstroke, Fuji News Network said. At least two people are believed to have died from heatstroke, media said, prompting authorities to moderate their calls for power saving.

“Apparently there are some elderly people who have turned off their air conditioners because we are asking people to save energy, but please – it’s this hot – don’t hesitate about cooling off,” trade and industry minister Koichi Hagiuda told a news conference.

The government warned on Monday that reserve generating capacity could drop below 5% on Tuesday afternoon, close to the minimum of 3% that ensures stable supply, in Tokyo and eight surrounding prefectures. Reserve capacity below 3% risks power shortages and blackouts.

Government offices on Monday – including the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) – turned off some lights in the afternoon and evening, with METI halting use of 25% of elevators in its building.

Around 21% of respondents to a Yahoo Japan survey said using air conditioners helped them beat the heat, with staying hydrated in the top slot at 53%. Only 12% said they had stopped wearing face masks despite government guidelines that they no longer need to be worn outside.

Though expected to do well in the July 10 election for the upper house of parliament, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s ruling party faces headwinds from rising prices, worsened by a slide in the value of the yen that makes imports more costly.

The Kishida cabinet’s approval came to 50% in a voter survey conducted by public broadcaster NHK on June 24-26, down from 55% last week.

Commodities

Copper price chart fluctuates at previous closing levels

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Copper price chart

Copper prices chart are fluctuating slightly near the level of the previous close as investors estimate a lot of factors, trading data shows.

September futures on copper on the Comex exchange are getting cheaper by a symbolic 0.01%, to $ 3.5515 a pound.

On the London Metal Exchange (LME) in previous trading, the cost of a ton of copper with delivery in three months increased by 1.85% to $7,870.5; aluminum — by 0.54%, to $2,416. Zinc — by 1.1%, to $3,488.5.

Quotes in the morning do not show any pronounced dynamics for a lot of reasons. For example, the price of copper is affected by the tense situation between the U.S. and China, the largest consumer of this type of industrial metal.

Also, the price dynamics are influenced by macro statistics — exports from China in July jumped by 18% year-on-year, while the forecast growth was only 15%, which, in turn, cut some concerns about the demand for metals in its largest market.

At the same time, investors continue to fear a recessionary economy. Expectations of a further increase in the discount rate by the U.S. Federal Reserve System after the release of data from the labor market in the country have increased fears.

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Commodities

Natural gas price in Europe per 1,000 m3 hits $2,100 on the exchange

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Natural gas price europe per m3

Natural gas price Europe per 1,000m3: September gas futures contracts (benchmark TTF) were trading at $2,100 per 1,000m3 on Monday, gaining some 1.6% against Friday’s settlement price in the first hour of trading, London’s ICE exchange data showed.

So far, the current price minimum is $2,056.7 (-0.5% compared to Friday’s settlement price of $2,066.5). The maximum is $2,100 per 1,000m3 (+1.6%).

Last year the European market faced a gas collapse. Experts attributed the collapse to limited supply from major suppliers, low occupancy rates of underground gas storage facilities in Europe, and high demand for liquefied natural gas in Asia.

Right now, Europe continues to be under pressure due to continued supply strains from Russia. Russian gas exports have fallen since the outbreak of the war in Ukraine: shipments via Nord Stream and the Ukrainian gas transportation system have dropped significantly, and the Yamal-Europe pipeline has stopped altogether.

The average monthly settlement price of the nearest gas futures on the ICE increased sharply, by almost 50%, from $1,180 per 1,000m3 in June to about $1,805 in July, while in the middle of summer last year it did not exceed $500. In the last days of July gas quotations reached $2,400 per 1,000m3 for the first time in four months. Such steadily high prices have not been seen in the entire history of European gas hubs since 1996.

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Commodities

Price of gold falls on expectations of further US Federal Reserve rate hike

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price of gold falls

Price of gold falls: the price of the precious metal on Monday morning slightly decreased on the prospects of further interest rate hikes by the U.S. Federal Reserve, according to trading data.

The December gold futures price on the New York Comex Exchange is down $2.75, or 0.15%, to $1,788.7 a troy ounce. September silver futures went up 0.24% to $19.89 an ounce.

The precious metals market showed a negative trend on Monday morning, fueled by expectations of further interest rate hikes by the U.S. Federal Reserve after the release of the country’s labor market data.

Thus, the unemployment rate in July fell to 3.5% from the June level of 3.6%, while the number of the employed in non-farm industries increased by 528,000. Analysts had expected the figure to remain at June’s level. The increase in nonfarm payrolls was forecast at 250,000.

“Support from geopolitical tensions “was countered by the resilience of the U.S. dollar after the release of a credible U.S. jobs report and hawkish comments from Fed officials,” Ravindra Rao, vice president of commodities at Kotak Securities, told Bloomberg news agency.

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