Platinum ETPs See Largest Inflows in 6 Weeks as Mine Strike Positions Harden. Over the past week attention has been focused on platinum group metals as London hosted its annual Platinum Week activities. Platinum ETPs also saw increased attention with ETFS Physical Platinum seeing its largest inflows in six weeks. The ongoing strike action in South Africa is driving interest in the metal as the stalemate looks like it will persist for some time to come. Gold traded in a very tight range as US Fed minutes revealed little urgency in tightening policy while the Ukrainian crisis continued to drive safe haven buying.
ETFS Physical Platinum (PHPT) sees highest inflows in six weeks. With the strike in South Africa showing little sign of resolution, the platinum price rose 1.4% and US$6.1mn flowed into PHPT. Despite the three largest miners in South Africa using the Labour Court to mediate the wage dispute with Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU), Impala’s CEO conceded that the strike could go on for longer. Johnson Matthey, published its latest forecast for the industry, projecting a 1.2mn oz supply deficit for platinum (from 0.9mn oz deficit last year) and a larger 1.6mn oz supply deficit for palladium (from 0.4mn oz last year). Even after the pay dispute is resolved there will be a lag before production can be ramped up to full capacity, prolonging the delay in getting supply to the market. It is clear that secondary supply is unable to catch up with the primary deficit, keeping the market very tight.
Profit-taking drives US$4.5mn of outflows from long WTI crude oil ETPs. US$3.5mn flowed out of ETFS WTI Crude Oil (CRUD), the highest in 13 weeks, while a further US$1mn withdrew from ETFS Daily Leveraged WTI Crude Oil (LOIL), the most in 5 weeks as WTI prices rose 2.2% over the week. Against analysts’ expectations, total crude oil inventories in the US dropped sharply by 7.2 million barrels, the largest drawdown since early January. Last week’s withdrawals could potentially mark the beginning of the seasonal drawdown ahead of the US summer driving season. An earlier-than-expected pick-up in oil demand would provide further support to the WTI price currently at around US$104/bbl.
Broad agriculture ETP sees largest outflows in a month as grain supply expectations rise. As most agricultural prices slipped, investors withdrew $5.6mn from ETFS Agriculture last week. The USDA’s corn surplus forecast for 2014/15 and rain assisting US wheat production led to price declines of 1.5% and 2.8% respectively. Some investors saw the price moves as a buying opportunity, with US$3.1 of inflows into long corn ETPs (a 10 week high) and 2.5mn into long wheat ETPs (13 week high). The coffee price continued to fall last week (dropping 6.6%) as more market participants digested the report from Conab (Brazilian National Agricultural Supply Company) that showed that damage from the drought earlier this year was not as bad as feared.
US$3.4mn flowed out of long copper ETPs, the most in 11 weeks, driven by profit taking. Copper rose 0.3% last week, bringing its monthly gain to 4.1%. Last week’s better-than-expected HSBC Chinese manufacturing PMI helped bolster the metal as the outlook for China’s industrial demand improves. Given the heavy net short speculative positioning in the futures market we believe that copper has significant upside potential we target US$7500/MT as industry expectations of supply surplus this year will likely need to be trimmed.
Key events to watch this week
A relatively quiet will see focus placed on the US durable goods orders as a gauge for the strength of consumer demand for big-ticket items.
Note: All flow and AUM data in this report are based on ETF Securities ETPs to 22 May 2014 and are denominated in USD unless otherwise indicated.
This communication has been issued and approved for the purpose of section 21 of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 by ETF Securities (UK) Limited (”ETFS UK”) which is authorised and regulated by the United Kingdom Financial Conduct Authority (”FCA”).