Minerals & Energy Outlook: July 2018

NAB’s USD non-rural commodity price index declined by over 3% q/q in Q2 2018. This only partially reversed the large gain made in the previous quarter and, as a result, it is still 7.5% higher than a year ago. The fall in Q2 mainly reflected a decline in iron ore and metallurgical coal prices, although LNG export prices – linked to the price of oil – rose.

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Overview:

  • We expect economic fundamentals will lead to further declines in overall USD commodity prices through to end-2019. While the global economy continues to grow at an above average rate, the acceleration seen in 2017 is no longer occurring and we think growth has peaked. China remains a key player in the global commodity markets, and its economy is expected to slow gradually in coming years, in part driven by a slowdown in the commodity intensive construction industry.
  • That said, we see some upside to LNG export prices over the rest of this year. Reflecting supply-side issues we expect Brent oil prices to remain in the mid-to-high US$70s range in coming months. This will flow through to higher Australian gas export contracts as they are tied to the price of oil. However, the prospects of an increase in OPEC-Russia and US shale production should in-time lead to some moderation in energy prices.
  • In part reflecting the broad strength in the USD, the AUD/USD exchange rate depreciated in Q2 2018. As a result, the NAB AUD non-rural commodity price index was largely unchanged in Q2. However, we expect the AUD will overcome its recent weakness to settle around the mid-70s level later this year, and the AUD non-rural commodity price index is also expected to track lower.
  • A source of downside risk to most commodity prices – (gold being an exception) – are current trade tensions between the US and some of its major trading partners (particularly China, but also the EU, Canada and Mexico). An escalating cycle of tit-for-tat tariff and other trade barriers would have a negative impact on world growth, lowering demand for commodities (and commodity market expectations of future demand).

For more information please refer to the attached report: