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Precious metals continue rally

The commodities deck was mixed during the week ended March 22, with most precious metals continuing the rally seen in the previous week.

The Federal Reserve said March 20 that its benchmark interest rate will likely remain unchanged this year at between 2.25% and 2.5%. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said the weaker growth of European and Chinese economies could be a "headwind" to the U.S. economy, CNBC reported.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo on March 20 lifted a short-lived export ban on cobalt and copper concentrates the country imposed in February. However, the government, which adopted a new mining code in 2018, will reportedly review every six months if it should re-enact the ban.

China and Indonesia are planning antidumping duties on bulk commodities. China plans to temporarily introduce taxes on imports of stainless steel billet and hot-rolled stainless steel plates from the EU, Japan, South Korea and Indonesia. Indonesia will impose antidumping duties of up to 20% for five years, starting in April, on several flat-rolled iron and steel products from China, Russia, India, Taiwan, Thailand, Kazakhstan and Belarus.

Price ring

Precious metals traded positively during the week except for palladium. Rhodium was the biggest winner, climbing 3.6% on a weekly basis to end the week at US$3,315 per ounce. Platinum rose 1.9% to US$847/oz. Gold and silver both advanced 0.8% to close at US$1,313/oz and US$15.4/oz, respectively. Palladium fell 0.2% to US$1,549/oz.

Base metals were mixed, with zinc increasing 1.4% to US$2,870 per tonne from the previous week. Nickel was up 0.5% to US$12,911/t. Lead prices fell 0.9% to US$2,036/t, and copper was down 0.2% to US$6,433/t. Aluminum prices grew 1.8% to US$1,891/t.

On the steelmaking materials front, iron ore spot import prices for China dropped 9.5% to US$74.7/t and Australian metallurgical coal prices were flat at US$204/t.

Talking points

Regarding China's antidumping duties on stainless products, BMO Capital Markets analysts said in a March 22 note that such moves will hit Tsingshan Holding Group Co. Ltd., which ships much of the stainless steel it produces in Indonesia to China for further processing. However, BMO believes that the company can avoid shipping the affected products as it has enough flexibility in its product mix.

BMO anticipates higher iron ore prices this year to cause a slight recovery in Indian export volumes. "However, the country is now only a small net exporter of iron ore, a far cry from the ~120 Mt shipped to global markets a decade ago," analysts wrote.

Sharps Pixley Ltd. said in a March 20 note that mining stocks are at the beginning of a new bull market. "Creative destruction has taken place, and leverage on a rising gold price is higher than ever. The megamerger between Barrick and Randgold might have marked the bottom."

Financings

IRC Ltd. completed the refinancing of an outstanding loan following an initial US$172 million drawdown from a US$240 million facility with JSC Gazprombank.

Paringa Resources Ltd. secured a US$56 million term loan facility.

Nutrien Ltd. priced US$1.5 billion of 10-year and 30-year senior debt.

Shandong Gold Mining Co. Ltd. issued a green bond valued at 1 billion Chinese yuan.

Angang Steel Co. Ltd. intends to issue asset-backed securities of up to 10 billion yuan.

Russia's Evraz PLC plans to buy back US$700 million of 6.5% outstanding bonds maturing April 22, 2020.

Magnis Energy Technologies Ltd. said its 47%-owned Imperium3 New York battery development consortium signed a 13-year term sheet for US$52 million in funding.