Crude Oil

Crude oil production is outpacing demand with the result that millions of barrels of oil are getting added to the inventory. Commercial crude stockpiles as reported by the US Energy Information Administration is at 19-year highs. And yet oil shows no signs of declining below $50. What is the reason for the oil market to defy the laws of demand and supply? Traders are betting on the US economy picking up later this year, though there is still little supportive data. In fact, on 29th April the US Commerce Department reported that gross domestic product shrank 6.1% in the first quarter - the third consecutive quarter of contraction. This is the first time something like this has happened in the last 34 years. But equity markets searched and found a silver lining - an increase in consumer spending. That created a sharp rally in stock indices and, therefore, in crude oil. How long will it last?

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Sugar, Jefferies CRB Index, Gold and Silver

• According to a report by Merrill Lynch, sugar prices are expected to rise by as much as 20% over the next five months and remain firm till September 2011 caused by a tight supply due to lower production and a decline in inventory (buffer stock). Sugar is available in the range of Rs23-Rs25 per kg in the retail market as against Rs17-Rs18 per kg in August last year. 

• According to Credit Suisse, after declining the most in half a century, commodity prices have reached a bottom and are likely to rebound over the next several years as demand outpaces supply. After declining 36% last year, the Reuters/Jefferies CRB Index of 19 commodities fell another 4% in the first quarter. “There are some signs of stabilization and we are becoming more optimistic that we have seen the lows of the cycle,” said Adam Knight, head of Credit Suisse Glencore Commodities Alliance.  

• Gold and silver imports are picking up in the wake of declining prices of the precious metals. According to the Bombay Bullion Association, over 10 tonnes of gold arrived in India in the first half of April; despite some silver stocks still available, imports of silver too have begun.

 

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Natural Rubber

According to Association of Natural Rubber Producing Countries (ANRPC), global natural rubber output would fall 2.2% to 8.9 million tonnes in 2009. It also reported that Thailand, which accounts for about 33% of the global supply, has dropped its production by 13.9% during the first two months of 2009, whereas Indonesia, which accounts for around 29%, has reduced its production by 6% expecting to bring down the global supply by 165,000 tonnes. The group revised down the production forecasts of India for 2009 in the backdrop of a severe drought during the first quarter of the year 2009 in the country’s major rubber-growing region. Since the auto industry has been showing signs of recovery, demand for rubber by tyre companies has increased and tight supplies have led to an increase of 37% in the rubber price over March 2009.

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