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Watch: Market Movers Europe, Oct 29 - Nov 2: Energy, metals results season continues; steel merger hangs in balance

In this week's Market Movers: Water levels on the Rhine are making a splash, or not, across commodity markets, and European gas is feeling the pressure from imported LNG.

The end of October sees the release of third-quarter results, with several energy majors due to report this week, including BP, Shell and ArcelorMittal.

On Tuesday, the European Commission will decide whether to grant approval or launch an in-depth investigation into the proposed merger of the steel interests of two giants: Tata Steel Europe and Thyssenkrupp.

Meanwhile, with Rhine water levels at their lowest in 15 years, the prices of commodities including coal, petrochemicals, metals, biodiesel and ethanol have all been affected. Only single-hull barges able to navigate the lower and middle Rhine, the logistical problems look set to continue.

This Thursday sees the start of a new month -- but despite this, a flood of LNG cargoes and slightly warmer temperatures could lead to lower European natural gas prices; which brings us to our social media question this week: Are increased European LNG imports a growing trend? Tweet us your response with the hashtag #PlattsMM.

In the futures markets, traders will be watching the backwardation in ICE low-sulfur gasoil futures closely. When markets are in backwardation, prices for nearer term delivery are higher than for longer dated contracts.

Finally, harvest-time pressure is likely to increase in the corn market this week, with Ukrainian corn prices expected to sink to their lowest in recent years.

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In this week's highlights: Water levels on the Rhine are making a splash, or not, across commodity markets, and European gas is feeling the pressure from imported LNG.

But first: the end of October sees the release of third-quarter results, with several energy majors due to report this week.

BP will announce its third-quarter results on Wednesday, while Shell will follow on Thursday. Global upstream activity is continuing to recover, but the risk of underinvestment in new projects still hangs over the oil industry, as capital discipline and the transition to lower-carbon energy constrain development spending.

As a result, the two companies' earnings announcements will be closely watched.

Third-quarter results are also eagerly anticipated in the metals industry, where Luxembourg-based ArcelorMittal, the world's biggest steelmaker, is due to report Thursday. Analyst consensus is that the steelmaker will report EBITDA of $2.75 billion. That's down from $3.1 billion in the second quarter.

Staying in the steel sector, on Tuesday the European Commission will decide whether to grant approval or launch an in-depth investigation into the proposed merger of the steel interests of two giants: Tata Steel Europe and Thyssenkrupp.

The Commission has indicated the proposed tie-up could fall under merger control regulation. The planned joint venture would make the new company the second-largest steel producer in Europe behind ArcelorMittal, producing 21 million mt/year of steel.

One commodity that will dominate the news this week is water.

The Rhine is at its lowest in 15 years. This is affecting the prices of coal, petrochemicals, metals, biodiesel and ethanol. With only single-hull barges able to navigate the lower and middle Rhine, the logistical problems look set to continue.

Force majeure has now been declared at two steel mills in Germany, while prices for RME biodiesel, which is typically used in winter, have been pushed to record highs.

The German Federal Institute of Hydrology said late last week that no recovery in water levels is expected in the coming week, as more rain is still needed. This Thursday sees the start of a new month -- but despite this, a flood of LNG cargoes and slightly warmer temperatures could lead to lower European gas prices.

LNG cargoes are being drawn into Europe because of weak Asian LNG demand and high charter rates, Fifteen vessels are expected to arrive at Continental European terminals this week according to S&P Global Platts Analytics – supply equivalent to 1.5 Bcm of natural gas. The current high regasification volumes in the 2018 gas year are shown by the pink line on your screen.

That brings us to our social media question this week: Are increased European LNG imports a growing trend? Tweet us your response with the hashtag #PlattsMM.

In the futures markets, traders will be watching the backwardation in ICE low-sulfur gasoil futures closely. When markets are in backwardation, prices for nearer term delivery are higher than for longer dated contracts. In the case of low sulfur gasoil, the difference between the front-month and second-month contracts traded at multi-year highs of over $9 last Friday.

The wide backwardation comes at a time of low imports from typical suppliers to Northwest Europe, including the US, Baltic States and the East of Suez at a time of regional refinery maintenance.

Harvest-time pressure is likely to increase in the corn market this week, with Ukrainian corn prices expected to sink to their lowest in recent years -- perhaps even surpassing the four-and-a-half-year low hit in 2017. Market participants are expected to revise upward their corn crop expectations for the current marketing year.

The most recent US Department of Agriculture report forecast 31 million mt of corn, while others are forecasting a bumper record of 38 million mt. Contributing factors include a lack of inland storage, healthy global supply and very few destination buyers.

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