Another casualty of the renewed dollar strength and with that lower risk appetite was copper. The white metal’s impressive recovery from the March low had already started to slow with the price of HG copper struggling to extend its gains beyond $3.1/lb. The rally seen across industrial metals, not least copper, in recent months has been driven by a post-pandemic recovery in Chinese demand supported by credit and scattered supply disruptions.
While the fundamental outlook remains supportive, the lack of fresh upward catalysts and an elevated net-long position held by speculators such as hedge funds and CTAs helped drive a correction to $2.91/lb this past week. Depending on the resilience among speculators and developments elsewhere, the price correction can potentially extend further towards the early August low at $2.77/lb.
Despite several headwinds, crude oil managed to avoid the selling seen across other commodities. While down on the week, it still managed to put up a defence despite doubts about the rebound in demand with lockdown measures on the rise, together with the risk of rising supply and the stronger dollar. All perhaps signs that the market had taken note of the strong verbal intervention given by the Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman. At the recent OPEC+ meeting he condemned members that tried to get away with pumping too much crude while also challenging short sellers in the futures market who in the week to September 11 held a combine 250 million barrel short in WTI and Brent crude oil.
Additional support came from an across the board weekly drop in U.S. crude oil and product stocks and a monthly survey from the Dallas Fed in which they asked 160 executives from the oil and gas firms questions about the current state of the market. Some 66% replied that U.S. production had already peaked, and the vast majority needed a WTI price above $50/b in order to substantially increase the U.S. oil rig count. On that basis, with the current lack of progress towards higher prices, we may see a further drop in U.S. oil production over the coming months.
Lower U.S. production and elevated stock levels around the world have supported a reduction in WTI’s discount to Brent to less than two dollars per barrel. Overall, however, we remain skeptical about crude oil’s short-term ability to move higher and as per the chart below Brent crude is currently stuck in a range between $39.50/b to the downside, while resistance is at $43.60/b where both the 50 and 200-day moving averages meet.