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Watch: Market Movers Asia, Jan 14-18: All eyes on China's crude oil import data, US decision on Rusal sanctions

China is scheduled to release its preliminary crude oil import data, which will indicate the country's buying appetite in the coming months. S&P Global Platts' survey and data from its trade flow tracker cFlow showed that the country's crude inflow in December will likely hit another all-time-high, surpassing the November level of 10.48 million barrels per day.

China has completed the purchase for roughly 5 million tons of US soybeans since the last G20 summit in Argentina in November. After last week's meeting, top officials from both countries are expected to meet again later this month and markets will keep an eye on whether they can finally find a resolution to the trade war.

Still on China, restocking ahead of the upcoming Lunar New Year and supply tightness due to rainfall in Indonesia resulted in seaborne coal prices rising steadily last week. But demand could weaken this week as most of power plants have been completed replenishment ahead of the holidays.

Finally, the metals market is keeping an eye on the US' decision on the sanctions against Russian aluminum giant, Rusal. Aluminum prices rallied to record highs in April 2018 when the sanctions were imposed, and market players will watch the impact of the US' decision on prices moving forward.

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This week: Markets will continue to assess the impact of the positive outcome of the US-China meeting last week, US to decide on Rusal sanctions, and China restocks thermal coal ahead of the Lunar New Year holidays.

But first, in oil, China is scheduled to release its preliminary crude oil import data today, which will indicate the country's buying appetite in the coming months. An S&P Global Platts' survey as well as data from its trade flow tracker cFlow showed that the country's crude inflow in December will likely hit another all-time-high, surpassing the November level of 10.48 million barrels per day. High imports are set to push up inventories amid weakening demand for oil products in the domestic market, dampening China's buying interest for crude in January as well as February.

Still on China, the country has completed the purchase for roughly 5 million tons of US soybeans since the last G20 summit in Argentina in November. After last week's meeting, top officials from both countries are expected to meet again later this month, this time in the US, and markets will keep an eye on whether they can finally find a resolution to the trade war. The North Asia corn market awaits the outcome of these trade talks, with traders seeing high FOB US corn prices on the back of expected Chinese demand.

In metals, the deadline for US decision on whether to remove sanctions against Russian aluminum giant RUSAL is on 17th of January. Aluminum prices rallied to record highs in April 2018 when the sanctions were imposed. Since then, the US has eased and extended a definite decision on the sanctions until now. Will the sanctions finally be lifted next week? How big of an impact will that have on aluminum prices this year? Share your thoughts on Twitter with the hashtag PlattsMM.

In thermal coal, as the import quota restriction in China showed signs of easing, Chinese restocking ahead of the upcoming Lunar New Year, coupled with supply tightness due to rainfall in the Kalimantan areas, resulted in seaborne coal prices rising steadily last week. However, with most replenishment of the power plants completed, the outlook this week look set to weaken while market activity is expected to slow as most factories would wind down operations two weeks before the holidays.

That's it for this week. Thanks for kicking off your Monday with us. Have a great week ahead!