Commodity spotlight: V-shaped oil bounce and lithium doing lithium things

Fri 25 Mar 22, 4:25pm (AEDT)
Trucks - eavy mining dump truck driving along the opencast
Source: iStock

Key Points

  • Russia-Ukraine developments favour higher oil prices
  • Battery makers and electric vehicle manufactures are now passing on higher prices
  • Australia ban's alumina and bauxite exports to Russia, driving prices higher

A V-shaped rebound for oil

Oil prices are headed back towards US$120 a barrel as Russia-Ukraine developments helped prop up prices. 

  • European leaders decide not to sanction Russian energy imports

  • President Vladimir Putin caused a massive stir after demanding “unfriendly” countries must pay for gas imports with rubles

  • An outage on a pipeline that runs through Russia. The Caspian pipeline exports around 1.2m barrels per day, or roughly 1.2% of global demand

Crude oil
Source: TradingView

Goldman Sachs forecasts oil prices to be around US$135 a barrel in the second quarter as the market battles the significant supply shock from Russia. Though, the investment bank told investors to watch out for volatility. 

Are higher lithium prices a bad thing?

Lithium is the gift that keeps on giving, with lithium spodumene, carbonate and hydroxide prices up more than 100% year-to-date. 

Global lithium prices
Source: Macquarie Research, March 2022

This has translated to outsized returns for local lithium stocks, most notably emerging producers such as Core Lithium (ASX: CXO), AVZ Minerals (ASX: AVZ) and Lake Resources (ASX: LTR)

As lithium prices continue to rocket, could this actually come back around to bite the industry?

Last week, Tesla raised its prices in China and the US for the second time in less than a week, according to Reuters.

On Tuesday, Tesla raised the prices of all its models in the US by 5-10% and a few China-made models by around 5%.  

Morgan Stanley has gone as far as saying electric vehicle battery makers might have to raise prices by almost 25% due to soaring lithium carbonate prices. The pass-through costs could see electric vehicle makers raise prices by as much as 15%.

Australia’s Russian export ban spikes aluminium prices

Australia cut off alumina and bauxite supplies to Russia on Tuesday, driving a 4.1% price spike to US$3,520 a tonne. 

In 2020, Australia was the world’s largest bauxite producing nation and second for alumina. 

Adding further supply tightness was German aluminium maker Trimet, which will cut production at its main factory by half over the next few weeks due to the surging cost of energy prices. 

South 32 (ASX: S32) has closed the week 6% higher after a sharp correction earlier this month.

South 32 price chart
South 32 12-month price chart

While the unloved Alumina (ASX: AWC) continues to grind sideways. "The demand for aluminium has soared globally while there is a supply deficit that may keep supporting aluminium prices in the near-to medium-term," said Kunal Sawhney, CEO at Kalkine, Reuters reported.

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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