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In this list
Electric Power | Natural Gas | Oil | Metals | Petrochemicals

Commodities watch for crunch vote on Brexit

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Watch: Commodities watch for crunch vote on Brexit

In this week's Market Movers, with Shubhlakshmi Shukla, Editor, European Electricity Markets: The commodities market awaits key votes on Brexit, and oil traders assess market conditions amid global economic weakness.

The UK parliament votes yet again on Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal again. The outcome has the potential to affect commodity markets such as oil, petrochemicals and metals.

If the UK leaves the EU without an agreement on March 29th, WTO rules may mean that some oil products that were previously exported are redirected to the domestic market.

In petrochemicals, the market is bracing itself for a possible economic downturn, currency volatility and potential disruption to supply chains.

And in metals, UK steelmakers would continue to be protected by EU steel import quotas after Brexit.

Meanwhile, contractors at Total's North Sea oil and gas platforms hold the first in a series of strikes today, with a further strike at the Shetland Gas Plant on Wednesday.

Finally, it could be an interesting week for metals traders, with the LME launching seven new cash-settled futures contracts on Monday.

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View Full Transcript

In this week's highlights: the commodities market awaits this week's key votes on Brexit, and oil traders assess market conditions amid global economic weakness.

The UK parliament votes yet again on Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal again this week. The outcome has the potential to affect commodity markets such as oil, petrochemicals and metals.

The sticking point for many MPs has been the arrangement known as the Irish backstop, which is intended to avoid a hard border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. EU and UK negotiators have been working over the weekend to come up with a deal acceptable to hardline Euroskeptics in May's Conservative Party and the Northern Irish Democratic Unionists.

Should May lose Tuesday's vote, parliament will vote on Wednesday on whether to rule out a no-deal Brexit. On Thursday, there would then also be a vote on whether to delay the UK's departure by two months to reach an agreement. But this would require the agreement of the other 27 EU member states.

If the UK leaves the EU without an agreement on March 29th, WTO rules may mean that some oil products that were previously exported are redirected to the domestic market.

In petrochemicals, the market is bracing itself for a possible economic downturn, currency volatility and potential disruption to supply chains. This would hit the UK and European polymers market in particular.

And in metals, UK steelmakers would continue to be protected by EU steel import quotas after Brexit. However, the industry is worried that extra value-added costs may be liable on trade with the rest of Europe, potentially suppressing demand for UK exports. If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, it is expected to become subject to WTO rules on trade, involving varying import and export tariffs. This could mean, for example, that UK aluminum products would become liable to 3% tariffs upon import into the EU, while UK car components would incur a 4.5% EU import tax.

Away from Brexit, but sticking with disputes. Contractors at Total's North Sea oil and gas platforms hold the first in a series of strikes today, with a further strike at the Shetland Gas Plant on Wednesday. The 24-hour strike is likely to hit natural gas and oil output although the actual operational impact remains unclear. Total has yet to provide notification of any shutdown.

Workers at Total subcontractors Aker and Petrofac are protesting against changes to their offshore rotas and are set to strike at the Elgin, Franklin, Alwyn and Dunbar platforms.

Elsewhere, several reports due out this week should provide a steer on the state of play in global oil markets. The International Energy Agency provides a double bill: it publishes its five-year outlook, Oil 2019, Monday, and its monthly oil market report on Friday.

OPEC publishes its monthly oil market report on Thursday.

It comes amid economic jitters and S&P Global Platts Analytics data showing a fall in the US oil and gas rig count to a 14-month low – that's the chart you can currently see on your screen. Commentary on that trend is likely to come from this week's CERA Week conference, which will be taking place in Houston.

Finally, it could be an interesting week for metals traders. The LME will launch seven new cash-settled futures contracts on Monday. The contracts are a response to the metals industry's growing need to manage price risks across its production and value chains in volatile markets.

The launch shows a strong commitment to steel – considered a relatively conservative sector that has been slow to take up hedging. There the LME launches of two hot-rolled coil contracts. That follows a recent increase in trading volumes in the exchange's steel scrap and rebar futures, which have together traded more than 10 million mt to date. In aluminum, the LME is launching an alumina contract and aluminum premium duty paid and unpaid contracts to complement its global primary physical aluminum contract. New contracts are also being launched for minor metals molybdenum and cobalt, which has suffered wide price fluctuations due to new demand from the electric vehicles sector.

The exchange is set to launch a lithium contract later this year.

Thanks for kicking off Monday with us and have a great week ahead