Saudi Aramco has raised its official selling prices for July. Will other Middle Eastern producers follow suit? How will South Korea’s coal-fired power plant shutdowns affect the thermal coal market? And what could drive Asia’s appetite for South African corn? Associate Editor Arusha Das looks at this and other factors that could drive commodity markets this week.
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Welcome to Platts Market Movers, your three-minute look at what the week ahead holds for Asian commodity markets.
The highlights this week: Coal-fired power plants in South Korea close for June, the restart of Gorgon LNG's Train 1 in Australia, and interest emerges in Asia for South African corn.
But first, in oil, Saudi Aramco Sunday raised its official selling prices for July.
Prices movements by other Middle Eastern suppliers will be closely watched in coming days, especially in light of the nine-month extension to OPEC and non-OPEC production cuts, and amid competition from US and other non-OPEC suppliers.
What impact will competition from US and non-OPEC production have on Middle Eastern producers' market share in the months to come?
In Asia, biggest oil consumer China will release its preliminary crude and oil products import/export data on Thursday.
The government issued extra product export quotas in mid-May in a bid to reduce a glut of oil products in the domestic market, and this will likely curb the country's appetite for crude oil and push up product exports in the May data.
In coal, strong demand from China and tight supply in Indonesia due to heavy rain look set to lend support to Indonesian low CV coal this week. China’s impending decision on import restricting for coal will also be closely watched.
The coal market will also be monitoring the impact of the 30-day shutdown of eight coal-fired power plants in South Korea from June 1 to reduce air pollution.
For coking coal, an arbitrage has opened to China, while India is short on supply. Should these trends continue, it may offer support to prices.
In iron ore, BHP's Mount Whaleback mine in Western Australia resumed operations Friday after a fire the day before, and there was no immediate impact on prices.
If supply of iron ore in the market was reduced, freight rates would be negatively affected.
Also in shipping, low earnings on Persian Gulf-Japan route for Long Range tankers is seeing owners resisting current rate levels despite ample supply. There are still nearly 50 LR1s and 35 LR2s available for loading in the Persian Gulf in the next three weeks, according to industry estimates.
In LNG, all eyes will be on the recent restart of Gorgon Train 1 in Australia this week, and whether it will inject further spot supply into the market amid emerging summer demand.
A few LNG buy tenders in the Atlantic are due for also settlement this week, notably a 16-cargo requirement from Enarsa in Argentina.
In agriculture, a surplus of South African corn could attract buying interest in Asian markets including Japan, South Korea and Taiwan this week.
Traders estimate a bumper 3 million tonnes of South African corn is available for export during the current marketing year.
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