On Softening U.S. Inflation, Will Zinc Prices Go North or South?
- 15-Dec-2022 3:14 PM
- Journalist: Timothy Greene
A deluge of economic data, political and geopolitical events, pandemic measures, and social upheaval all had an impact on metal prices in November, especially Zinc prices around the world. It can be said that Zinc metals prices had a good month because they rose in response to reports of lower U.S. inflation and a relaxation of China's COVID-19 regulations; however, both of these developments were later moderated.
Expectations of a downturn in the U.S. interest rate increases are being fuelled by the weakening U.S. inflation. However, inflation is still high in the majority of developed economies and is expected to remain so in Europe and the United Kingdom, with the prospect of a global recession. The prospects of an economic rebound in China (a major supplier) and, consequently, an increase in demand for several industrial metals, including Zinc, depend on how the COVID-19 policies are progressing. Mining and refinery supply problems also persist or have become more evident in November, counteracting the weakening of demand for Zinc. Keeping in mind that the end of 2022 is just around the horizon, adjustments to consensus Zinc metals price projections this month have been very conservative.
Early in November, as the U.S. Federal Reserve increased interest rates by 0.75% for the fourth time in a row, the trade-weighted U.S. dollar index reached a peak of over 112. The dollar fell to a three-month low in response to U.S. inflation statistics indicating a 0.4% decrease month over month in October at 7.7%, with the dollar trade-weighted index ending November at 105.9. The expectation on the markets is that the Fed will reduce the rate of monetary tightening in the forthcoming period.
The London Metal Exchange (LME) Zinc price remained firm throughout November despite some daily volatility, reaching above USD 3,000 per metric tonne in the middle of the month on positive market news (China's long-awaited relaxation of its COVID-19 policy) and persistently low refined supplies. Due to energy supply issues, Zinc smelters in China have been reducing production, while smelters in Europe have been doing the same because of rising electricity costs.
The Canadian Valleyfield plant of Glencore PLC went under maintenance, significantly limiting supply, and exchange-traded refined Zinc stocks have continued to decline and to multiyear lows. Despite fluctuations in consensus projections, Zinc prices should continue to be above pre-pandemic levels through 2026 thanks to an anticipated sizeable market shortfall in 2022.