SUMMARY

 Economic Features:  

  • OECD Composite Leading Indicators point to continued global growth.  China’s CLI point toward continued growth with potential for an upturn, but likely with slower than previously.  Like most developed nations, North America and Europe, having had a small recovery surge, with CLI pointing toward slower near term growth, we think comparable to the rates prior to the 2008-09 financial crisis. Asian countries’ CLI mostly appear to be preparing to signal an upturn.  Brazil’s CLI point to an upturn in the coming year.  Australia ia just growing with, at present no hint of a looming downturn according to its CLI.
  • Global Steel production for February was up ~1% both for yr-on-yr and mo-on-mo rate comparisons,  Chinese daily output rates flat with weak yr-on-yr growth in February.  European output grew quite well in February. North American output growth was muted.  Asian steel production was mixed with generally positive yr-on-yr growth for February but flat or negative mo-on-mo average daily rates.
  • USA – Industrial Production appears to be settling into slow growth patterns comparable with pre-financial crisis rates.  The level of industrial production is above financial crisis levels.
  • USA – New Housing Starts recorded negative yr-on-yr growth in February due to severe weather, but issuance of building permits advanced strongly.
  • Japan-  Electricity Demand recorded good industrial demand growth, though commercial and residential demand was weaker due to warmer than normal winter weather (requiring less heating).

 Commodities:

  • Copper  China’s Cu demand soft in March Qtr, but forecast to pick up in June Qtr.
  • Nickel  Price buoyed by Indonesian ban.  Norilsk not expecting sanctions to impact it.
  • Zinc & Lead  Global zinc mkt in deficit.  China to speed up construction projects.  Global lead mkt in deficit.
  • Tin  Indonesian police seized illegal tin ore in Bangka .
  • Aluminium Airbus poised to secure large Chinese order.
  • Gold  European bankers may end a restriction on gold sales.  Banks have actually been buying.
  • Platinum & Palladium  Palladium prices jumped on fears of Russian retaliation against US sanctions.
  • Oil  Despite fears, the market does not expect a significant impact due to Crimean situation.
  • Coal  Coking and thermal contract terms due 1 April, but no settlements achieved yet.  This is causing issues for shippers who are forced to contract ships on a provisional basis, and consider spot transactions.   Indonesian government proposals to change export targets and government rates, are causing uncertainty among coal miners there.
  • Iron Ore  China is planning a conglomerate that would produce half its iron ore requirements domestically.  China’s average daily production rate for crude steel for early March increased over late February after an habitual winter and holiday lull.
  • Shipping  Capesize rally fading on softer iron ore demand.  Grain season lifts panamax rates.