La Niña is coming: Here’s what it means for commodity markets

La Niña is coming. Hot on the heels of a record setting El Niño, another potentially strong weather phenomenon with very different characteristics could emerge later in 2016.

A consensus of longer-range computer models now show La Niña conditions emerging by around July, and should peak this winter at a moderate intensity. Strong El Niños are much more likely to be followed by a La Niña. The three strongest El Niños on record — in 1972, 1982 and 1997 — all transformed into La Niñas. In the video below the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration explain what’s about to happen. read more

Likely turn in potash prices suggests secure fertiliser supplies now

Rabobank has  published new research on the global potash industry highlighting the potential for further price falls but that buyers need to keep a close eye on the long term as suppliers may be close to managing output more effectively providing a floor to prices. The outlook for potash prices is especially important for US farmers who are likely to be strong buyers of fertiliser as the spring planting season begins.

Since the 2007-08 food crisis potash prices jumped 10-fold to $873 per tonne as farmers sought the key crop nutrient. Since early 2009 when prices peaked they have more than halved to around $400 per tonne in early 2013 as the key markets of India and China sought alternatives. read more

Currency war has mixed results for manufacturers

Attention on the prospect of an escalation in the ‘currency war’ as economies seek to devalue their currencies hoping to gain a competitive advantage has tended to focus on the potential gains that exporters may reap. However, there is a flip side for economies devaluing their currencies and for manufacturers in particular. A decline in a currency simultaneously increases the cost of imports. If a manufacturer needs to import commodities and/or sub components its input costs may increase significantly if its currency devalues, irrespective of the underlying fundamentals of the commodity concerned. read more

Pancake ingredients up 30% in the last 5 years

Banana on pancake Brandon Martin-Anderson / / CC BY-SA

Our friends at the EEF, upon buying their pancake ingredients for Shrove Tuesday could not quite believe how much they now cost.  As the price of agricultural commodities has soared in recent years so has the cost of pancake ingredients.

There have been some significant increases in the prices of basic goods in recent years. Flour and eggs are approximately one third more expensive than they were five years ago. And over the same period the price of butter has increased by nearly two thirds. In fact, if you weigh out all of your ingredients, the price of making pancakes has risen by 30% in the last five years. read more

Oil prices unlikely to rise without geopolitical shock

Oil prices have rallied by 10% over the past two months buoyed by improving sentiment on economic recovery and a decline in the US dollar. Based on historical trends prices could well increase further during 2013. However oil prices are now near the point at which energy costs have been a drag on economic activity in recent years, suggesting further increases in oil prices may be limited. Without a geopolitical shock oil prices are unlikely to move significantly above current levels. 

Brent crude prices have been steadily moving up over the past couple months from around $106 per barrel in early December to just under $117 per barrel currently. Seen in a longer context however this only brings prices back to mid-September levels and prices are still some $10 per barrel below the recent highs seen in March 2012. Previous rally’s in Brent crude prices above this level have largely been driven by concern over geopolitical risks, notably in spring 2011 with the Arab Spring uprising and then in spring 2012 due to concerns over Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Where next for oil prices? read more

Further reading: Delta’s refinery troubles and is manufacturing cool?

And You Might See Me Tonight With an Illegal Smile Thomas Hawk / / CC BY-NC

Dangerous Curve Ahead, the IMF Warns China (China Real Time Report)

Proof That The World Isn’t Freaking Out About China And Europe Anymore (Business Insider)

Delta’s oil refining efforts hit turbulence (FT)

Is Manufacturing “Cool” Again? (Project Syndicate)

Global economy at ‘significant risk’ over resource scarcity (Supply Management)

70% of companies believe climate change will hit business (Clean Biz Asia)

US cattle herd to fall to 60-year low. But does it matter? (Agrimoney)

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