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Wednesday, 12 December 18
SHIPPING MARKET INSIGHT - CHRISTOPHER WHITTY
IntermodalChina’s monthly iron ore imports dropped for the first time this year joined by declines in copper and soybeans as economic growth slows in the world’s biggest consumer of commodities amid a simmering trade row with the U.S. Oft-cited as a market indicator for economic health, the metal has been under pressure since the summer, threatening to unwind a three-year rally. Other casualties from the trade war included the worst November in six years for Chinese soybean imports, as buyers shied off U.S. purchases made too expensive by tariffs. Conversely, aluminum exports hit a near-four-year high, offering some relief from bloated domestic supply. But the cause was again trade related as China is shipping more to take advantage of supply dislocations arising from U.S. action against United Co. Rusal, Russia’s biggest producer.
 
In view of the trade war everyone's attention was at Buenos Aires as the Group of 20 leaders met in Argentina to discuss developments that will shape the future of commodity trading. Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping met to see if they can avert an escalation of the U.S.-China trade war. Also on the sidelines, Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed bin Salman discussed how to coordinate oil policy just before the cartel’s producers meeting last week in Vienna, where a production cut was eventually decided as the course of action that will be taken starting next year. 
That meeting is likely to shape the oil market in 2019 and affect everything from the war in Yemen to the share price of Exxon Mobil Inc. The choice Saudi Arabia has been facing is dramatic: cut oil production and enrage Trump, or keep pumping and risk ultra-low prices blowing up its economy. Ultimately it seems as if the Kingdom’s crown prince and day-to-day ruler, do need Trump’s political protection at this critical time of criticism. Of course the other key player here is Vladimir Putin, after Russia and Saudi Arabia spent the past two years working together to manage the oil market. Taken together, agreements, squabbles and comments made at the G-20 have the potential to trigger significant moves in seaborne cargoes from crude oil to soybeans, perhaps even iron ore and LNG. 
 
While the G-20 is the biggest item on the agenda, it’s not the only one. It’ll be a significant period for iron ore markets as well, since mining giant Vale SA briefs investors in London and New York on the state of the global market. 
 
The outcome of Trump’s meal with Xi Jinping at Buenos Aires had the scope to boost commodities that have been buffeted all year by their trade stand-off. Officials from both sides have been working on the contours of a possible deal that the leaders could announce after the plates have been cleared away and critically, a road map for more talks to follow. Donald Trump delayed for 90 days his threatened imposition of 25% tariffs on most Chinese imports after the dinner meeting with Xi Jinping, to give time for negotiations on longstanding trade disputes between the two countries, the White House has said.

By Christopher Whitty
Director, Towage and Port Agency Division
 
Compiled by:
Intermodal Research & Valuations


Analysts:
Ms Eva Tzima

George Panagopoulos


Disclaimer and legal disclosure: For any further queries please do not hesitate to contact our Research & Valuations Department. The information contained in this report has been obtained from various sources, as reported in the market. Intermodal Shipbrokers Co. believes such information to be factual and reliable without making guarantees regarding its accuracy or completeness. Whilst every care has been taken in the production of the above review, no liability can be accepted for any loss or damage incurred in any way whatsoever by any person who may seek to rely on the information and views contained in this material. This report is being produced for the internal use of the intended recipients only and no reproducing is allowed, without the prior written authorization of Intermodal Shipbrokers Co.

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