Brent Price Impacts Commodity Forecasts

Brent strengthened last month after unplanned supply outages and resilient global demand eroded the immediate overhang of unused crude oil. Our updated survey on Crude Oil Volumes and Prices suggests that the surplus in implied stock changes of petroleum will narrow in the second half of 2016, possibly encouraging inventories to be drawn down more quickly. However, whilst near-term forecasts have changed, most panellists did not shift their 2017 view significantly in response, partly reflecting a surge in Iranian oil output in the first four months of 2016. Clearly, the recent upturn in price for crude oil, from around US$30/bbl in January, has implications for other commodities, through cost channels and its effect on global risk appetite and inflation. The recovery in most Base Metals came to a halt at the end of May, constrained by a revival in the US dollar and the uncertain economic outlook for China, which slowed in Q1. Statements from Beijing suggest that it is prepared to raise spending to underpin its economy, which may continue to offer support for manufacturing and infrastructure projects. In addition, the shutdowns of some loss-making mills should reduce excess supply, which has discouraged investment. However, the rebound in Steel and Iron Ore will be difficult to sustain, and price declines later in the year are likely.

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