In this week's highlights, South Korea's demand for European sweet crude rises, improved relations between China and the US support Newcastle thermal coal prices, and Brazilian origin corn remains firm despite logistical challenges
In oil, Asian crude traders will monitor South Korean refiners' renewed appetite for Europe's light sweet North Sea crude this week. Sweet crude suppliers are increasingly preferred over Middle Eastern sour oil producers amid ongoing geopolitical tensions in the Persian Gulf region and OPEC's renewed commitment to keep output limited.
South Korea imported 1 million barrels of Forties crude from the UK in May, marking the country's first intake of light sweet North Sea grade since December last year, latest data from state-run Korea National Oil Corporation showed.
More North Sea crude cargoes are expected to reach South Korean ports over the coming weeks and months following Seoul's decision to extend freight incentives, refinery sources said.
Moving on to coal, Newcastle thermal coal prices reversed a five-month downtrend last week and are expected to open higher into this week. The upwards move in Newcastle prices followed a sudden change in Asian market sentiment from bearish to bullish on optimism about a thawing in China-US trade relations following the G20 meeting in Japan. Chinese buyers are also in a hurry to book Australian cargoes before a further tightening in import quotas expected in the fourth quarter, with bids shooting up more than $3/mt for the 5,500 NAR grade.
So for our social media question this week: Do you think this optimism in coal markets will continue? Share your thoughts with the hashtag PlattsMM.
In agriculture, the volatility on the US corn CBOT futures last week has led to lackluster trading activity in the Northeast Asian corn market as buyers continue to wait for clarity on price direction. South Korean buyers in particular, want to know if CBOT futures have been priced in. Prices of Brazilian origin corn continue to remain firm on the back of logistical issues in the country due to a bumper crop which has adversely affected the movement of crops from farms to the ports.
Finally, in metals, China will announce its June finished steel exports later this week, which are expected to be at a similar level to last month. Chinese mills will also be watching iron ore prices closely this week after they surged to 5-year highs recently.
If you are in Tokyo, Japan, we'd love to see you at the S&P Global Platts Japan Commodity Insights Forum on July 9. Our editors and market experts will be on hand to share insights on key themes and trends affecting the energy and metals markets
Thanks for kicking off your Monday with us. Have a great week ahead!