Commodities overview: High volatility persists after Russian shock

02/28/2022 | 09:05am

The price of oil crossed the USD 100 per barrel mark last week. The United States and the European Union are working to exclude a handful of Russian banks from the international bank payment system (the SWIFT system), which could disrupt Russian oil exports, although the West has so far not imposed any embargo on Russian hydrocarbons. Investors are also watching the Iranian nuclear talks, where a deal could be reached quickly. Brent crude is trading at around USD 102 per barrel compared to USD 96 for WTI.

A word on the price of gas in Europe, which, as you might expect, has literally skyrocketed in the past week due to the Russian threat in Ukraine. The Dutch benchmark, TTF, jumped to over 130 EUR/MWh at its highest point of the week. While Germany's suspension of Nord Stream 2 has weighed on prices, it is the risk that Russia will further reduce its gas flow to Europe due to sanctions that is causing concern.

Despite a surge to USD 1974, the ounce of gold retreated by the end of last week. The proof is that the price of the barbaric relic is trading below USD 1900. The same is true for silver, which gave back almost all of its gains at USD 24. Industrial metals remain much stronger, which is not surprising since Russia is a major producer of nickel and aluminum. The prices of these two metals set new annual highs at USD 3,500 and USD 26,100 per metric ton respectively.

In agricultural commodities, wheat and corn prices jumped in Chicago. Russia, but also Ukraine, remain two major players on these markets. According to the USDA, Ukraine and Russia together account for nearly 30% of world wheat exports and about 15% of corn exports. The suspension of operations by Ukraine, which is forced to halt operations at its Black Sea ports, is pressing prices higher. Wheat is trading at 899 cents a bushel, compared to 680 cents for a bushel of corn.



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