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Market Movers Asia, Dec 20-24: Markets eye omicron's spread; rains in Australia disrupt met coal supply

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Watch: Market Movers Asia, Dec 20-24: Markets eye omicron's spread; rains in Australia disrupt met coal supply

On this week's Platts Market Movers Asia with Senior Specialist Kanchan Yadav: India's official data on crude run rates for November will be closely watched amid spread of omicron. (00:14)

Other highlights from Asia's commodity markets:

*Threat of omicron weighs on transport fuel demand in China (00:44)

*Met coal faces supply disruptions due to rains in Australia (01:07)

*Australian APW wheat prices fall but tightening global supplies could see a rebound in prices (01:47)

*Asian LNG prices in the spotlight (02:33)

View Full Transcript

This week: Rains in Australia are disrupting supply of metallurgical coal, Asian LNG spot prices are in focus after trading below European ones last week, and grains markets will closely watch price trends in Australian wheat.

But first, India is set to release official data on crude run rates at various state and private refiners for November. The uptrend in run rates was visible in the October data, and traders will be watching to see if throughput rates rose even further in November.

As you can see, Indian refiners have been accelerating crude purchases, expecting a sustained uptrend in products demand. Although the threat from omicron has not been severe enough to dent the country's oil demand recovery, it has subdued the sentiment to some extent.

The threat of omicron has weighed on transport fuel demand in China as well, which has reported its first few cases of the virus. Market participants have said that a surge in cases may force local governments to further tighten travel restrictions and impose lockdowns, adversely impacting consumption of transport fuels, especially in the lead-up to the Lunar New Year, which is usually the peak travel season.

Moving to metallurgical coal, the focus remains on Australian weather amid a prolonged wet season in the country. Recent widespread rains in Queensland led to supply disruptions at coal mines, including a force majeure on shipments from a key mine. Metallurgical coal export prices have been rising this month, reaching 341.5 dollars per metric ton, up 8 percent from the start of December. Queues at various Queensland ports have become longer, with expectations of delay in ship loadings. Meanwhile, rains in New South wales have also impacted production of PCI and semisoft coal. The wet weather is expected to continue in Australia in the coming months.

In agriculture, grains markets will be closely watching the trend in Australian Prime White wheat prices, which fell by 10 dollars per metric ton in the last week. Australian wheat prices have declined in the peak harvest season even as uncertainty continues due to omicron. Falling APW wheat prices have also weighed on global wheat prices. However, traders expect the prices to recover in the near term amid tightening supplies from Russia, the US and Canada. An expected decline in milling wheat output in Australia is also expected to boost prices of the milling-grade wheat.

That brings us to our social media question for the week: Do you think wheat markets will see supply shortages in 2022? Share your thoughts on Twitter and LinkedIn with the hashtag PlattsMM.

And finally in LNG, market participants will closely watch the trend in Asian LNG prices this week. Asian LNG markets have high gas inventories and winter temperatures have been moderate so far. But the prices are vulnerable to a sudden change in weather patterns, like a cold wave in north Asia.

Asian LNG prices had crossed the 40 dollars per MMBtu level last week, but its pace of rise was slower than the steep surge seen in European gas and LNG markets. In fact, in the past week, Asian spot LNG prices have been below the European LNG prices -- a rare occurrence, especially in winter, because Asia has a much higher dependence on LNG in winter.

For more on the issues affecting commodity markets from wherever you are, make sure to check out Platts LIVE at the address displayed on your screen.

Thanks for kicking off your Monday with us. That's it for Platts Market Movers Asia for 2021. We look forward to you joining us again in 2022.