Fed holds interest rates, EU to delay Brexit & Russia plans to ban scrap palladium

16th Mar – 22nd Mar

1. US jobless claims fell more than expected last week

Mar 21, 2019

US initial claims for unemployment benefits dropped 9,000 to 221,000 for the week ended March 16, according to the US Labor Department report. Falling jobless claims are pointing to strong labor market conditions.

Source: CNBC

2.  US Crude oil inventories stood at 439.5 million barrels at March 15, slightly below the average for the season.

Mar 20, 2019

The Energy Information Administration confirmed a large draw at 9.6 million barrels for the week ended March 15.  Crude oil inventories stood at 439.5 million barrels at March 15, slightly below the average for the season. Gasoline inventories dropped by 4.6 million barrels, while distillate fuel inventories had shrunk by 4.1 million barrels, compared with a small build of 400,000 barrels in the prior week.

Source: Reuters

3. Copper demand may pick up in the second quarter of the year in China

Mar 18 ,2019

Seasonally, Chinese copper demand increases in the April to June period due to restocking ahead of the rising construction activity in the second quarter. The second quarter is normally the strongest in terms of physical activity in China.

Source: Live-mint

4. LME Copper warehouse inventories increased to 183,825 from 112,000 in last one week, cash to 3m premium shrinks

Mar 18,2019

Copper inventories in LME approved warehouses at 183,825 tonnes are up from 112,000 last week’s lows, but still more than 30% below the levels seen last August. Increasing inventories have seen the premium for the cash over the three-month copper contract shrink to $15 a tonne from $70 a tonne early in March.

Source: Live-mint

5. Russia is planning to put a ban on scrap palladium

Mar 18 ,2019

An already tight supply market may get another jolt after the news that Russia is planning to put a ban on scrap palladium, which will further reduce exports and may further boost prices. Russia is a major producer of the metal, which is used mainly in catalytic converters.

Source: Reuters

6. Norsk Hydro shut down several Aluminium smelters following a cyber-attack

Mar 19, 2019

Norsk Hydro became the latest company to be hit by hackers in a ransomware attack as one of Europe's leading aluminum producers suffered stoppages at several of its plants. Hydro officials were unable to use their computers. Hydro is one of the world's biggest suppliers of aluminum as well as alumina, a raw material used to make the metal.

Source: Financial Times

7. US Federal Reserve holds key benchmark interest rates steady and predicts no increases in 2019

Mar 20, 2019

The Fed kept its key short-term rate at a range of 2.25 percent to 2.5 percent and Chairman Jerome Powell mentioned that the US economy is in a good place; with a modest slowdown, overall economic conditions remain favorable and there is no need to increase interest rates.

Source: New York Times

8. The US wants to keep tariffs on China until it is sure of Beijing complying with the trade deal.

Mar 21 ,2019

President Donald Trump wants to keep tariffs on China until the US is sure of Beijing complying with the trade deal. Beijing has pushed the Trump administration to remove tariffs as part of any deal, but later, Chinese officials have shifted their stance because they haven't received assurances from the Trump administration.

Source: Business Standard

9. EU has agreed to delay the Brexit process

Mar 21 ,2019

The EU has agreed to delay the Brexit process and has thrown one last lifeline to the UK. Under the EU's plan, if the House of Commons passes the exit deal, Britain will leave the EU on May 22. EU leaders decided they had to take control over the situation if they hoped to head off a no-deal Brexit. Earlier to it, German Chancellor Angela Merkel had already promised to work "until the very last moment" to avoid it.

Source: CNN