Commodity Spotlight: Calm before the storm for iron ore, gold and aluminium

Fri 22 Jul 22, 4:10pm (AEDT)
Copper 16 Mining Truck
Source: iStock

Key Points

  • Iron ore prices trying to stabilise around US$100 amid weak demand and supply conditions in China
  • Gold recoups the US$1,700 level as central banks all race to hike interest rates
  • Aluminium's disconnect between prices, stockpiles and production capacity

The Bloomberg Commodity Index Futures is pointing to a weekly gain of 2.1% but still down around -16% from June highs.

More broadly speaking, commodity prices trended slightly higher in absence of high-profile economic data and a weaker US dollar.

Iron Ore: Waiting for a catalyst

Iron ore futures on the Singapore Exchange sat around the low US$100 level for most of this week.

Futures prices on China's Dalian Commodity Exchange rallied 2.2% on Friday but still flat for the week.

Iron ore has a wall of worries to climb amid concerns over another round of lockdowns in China, ongoing mortgage boycotts for delayed property projects and rising port inventories.

China’s iron ore market will likely be “oversupplied” in the second half of the year, Zhongzhou Futures analysts said in a note, Reuters reported.

Iron ore inventories in China rose to a seven-week high of 130.6m tonnes, according to SteelHome consultancy data.

At the same time, steel inventories held by traders across China fell for a fifth consecutive week to a 5.5-month low of 21.7m tonnes as of July 21, according to MySteel. Chinese steel mills have been reducing output due to growth concerns and poor margins.

Singapore iron ore futures price chart
Singapore iron ore futures (Source: TradingView)

Gold: Still waiting

Gold failed to rally on a pullback for the US dollar, briefly falling below the psychological US$1,700 level to a fresh 16-month low on Thursday night.

Gold prices recouped the US$1,700 level after larger-than-expected rate hikes from the European and South African central banks, which took some heat out of the US dollar.

The next two weeks will be loaded with catalysts for gold, including the Fed's interest rate decision and President Biden's meeting with President Xi.

A larger-than-expected rate hike from the Fed would place further upward pressure on the US dollar, which weighs on commodity prices.

Gold price chart
Source: TradingView

Aluminium: Winter is coming

Aluminum prices have tumbled -40% from March all-time highs of US$4,070 a tonne.

Prices have stabilised around 1-year lows of US$2,440, but it doesn't quite make sense given shrinking inventory levels.

Last week, Reuters observed a -64% decline in registered LME aluminium stocks, adding that the "market seems to be assuming that there is no shortage of aluminium despite the headline stocks figure ticking lower every day."

In parallel, Europe has lost about half its aluminium smelting capacity in the past year, with risk of production going even lower amid high power prices and energy rationing, according to Bloomberg.

Aluminium spot price chart
Aluminium spot price (Source: TradingView)


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Written By

Kerry Sun

Content Strategist

Kerry holds a Bachelor of Commerce from Monash University. He is an avid swing trader, focused on technical set ups and breakouts. Outside of writing and trading, Kerry is a big UFC fan, loves poker and training Muay Thai. Connect via LinkedIn or email.

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