Energy and Natural Resources Market Radar (July 15, 2013)

Energy and Natural Resources Market Radar (July 15, 2013)

Energy and Natural Resources Market

Car sales in first half of 2013
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  • The price of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil gained nearly 3 percent this week to $106 a barrel on expectations of an improving economy and tightening inventories.
  • Nucor hiked steel plate prices by a minimum of $30 per ton (around 4 percent), and this move was followed by ArcelorMittal USA and SSAB Americas in separate announcements.
  • China’s daily crude steel output for the last 10 days of June rose approximately 1 percent to 2.181m tons per day. This latest figure annualizes to 796 million tons per annum versus output of roughly 709 million tons in 2012.
  • China’s copper imports climbed to a nine-month high in June. Imports of the refined metal, alloy and products were 379,951 metric tons last month, according to the General Administration of Customs. This is the highest level since September and 5.9 percent higher from May, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

US monthly light vehicle sales on rise
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  • A tragic accident occurred over the weekend in Quebec, with a crude train derailing and causing an explosion resulting in five deaths. This will almost certainly draw attention to the safety of shifting enormous amounts of crude oil by rail as opposed to pipeline.
  • According to Macquarie, strength in the U.S. construction and auto markets has thus far failed to translate into improved metals demand, and in the case of aluminium, first-half orders for mill products are markedly down on the same period of last year. Latest data from The Aluminium Association shows that net new orders for mill products were down 2.4 percent sequentially and 0.6 percent from the prior year in June.
  • Chile’s Codelco mill is selling noncore assets to finance its investment plans: $27 billion to expand annual capacity to more than 2 million tons per year from the current 1.7 million tons per year. This is after the government allocated less money (a mere $1 billion) than it wanted to, according to Reuters.


  • World Nuclear News reports that four Japanese utilities have so far submitted restart requests for 10 nuclear reactors (of 48 non-operating reactors in Japan), with two more submissions expected before next week. TEPCO had been planning on submitting restart applications for two high-capacity reactors that were unaffected by the 2011 Tohuku earthquake and tsunami.
  • The new Chinese Administration’s desire to increase urbanization rates was demonstrated by the acceleration of a $6.4 trillion program to bring 400 million people into cities over the coming ten years. This is down 20 years under the original plan, which would increase the demand for resource-intensive investment.
  • The world economy will grow by 3.1 percent in 2013 and 3.8 percent in 2014, according to the latest IMF forecasts published this week.


  • China’s government has continued to reset expectations for the country’s economy. Finance Minister Lou Jiwei forecasts that GDP will rise 7 percent this year, below official targets of 7.5 percent. Lou also said that growth of 6.5 percent wouldn’t be a problem and that he doesn’t expect the economy to suffer a hard landing.

About the author

Frank Holmes is CEO and chief investment officer of U.S. Global Investors, Inc., and a Toronto, Canada native, which manages a diversified family of mutual funds and hedge funds specializing in natural resources, emerging markets and infrastructure. The company’s funds have earned more than two dozen Lipper Fund Awards and certificates since 2000. The Global Resources Fund (PSPFX) was Lipper’s top-performing global natural resources fund in 2010. In 2009, the World Precious Minerals Fund (UNWPX) was Lipper’s top-performing gold fund, the second time in four years for that achievement. In addition, both funds received 2007 and 2008 Lipper Fund Awards as the best overall funds in their respective categories. Mr. Holmes was 2006 mining fund manager of the year for Mining Journal, a leading publication for the global resources industry, and he is co-author of “The Goldwatcher: Demystifying Gold Investing.” He is also an advisor to the International Crisis Group, which works to resolve global conflict, and the William J. Clinton Foundation on sustainable development in nations with resource-based economies. Mr. Holmes is a much-sought-after conference speaker and a regular commentator on financial television. He has been profiled by Fortune, Barron’s, The Financial Times and other publications.

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