Metals Market 2019: Key Themes and Outlook

By Maximilian Court | November 16

S&P Global Market Intelligence observes that global policy is set to exert greater force on the world's commodity markets. The U.S. and China in particular have each released fiscal stimuli yet have conflicting directions when it comes to monetary policy. China's yuan has devalued by more than 7% this year, while the U.S. dollar has appreciated as quantitative easing moves to quantitative tightening. Meanwhile, the Sino-American trade war is also set to affect trading relations between the two countries. It could impact more than US$200 billion worth of trade and threaten 1.5 percentage points of Chinese economic growth in 2018. We assess that risks are mounting to the downside from these policies and that risks to inflation will increasingly challenge robust demand fundamentals over the short term.

Against this macroeconomic backdrop, we expect four market behaviors to drive market fundamentals and prices in 2019.

1. U.S. dollar to appreciate as Federal Reserve moves from quantitative easing
    to quantitative tightening
2. Top four miners' aggregate revenue driven by Chinese construction
3. Pollution levels in China's north are a driver of increased coking coal prices
4. Iron ore prices demonstrate a "flight to quality" led by China's drive for fewer emissions

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