Petroleum Coke Prices Dip in North America Amidst Economic Changes: Will the Construction Industry Drive a Recovery?
Petroleum Coke Prices Dip in North America Amidst Economic Changes: Will the Construction Industry Drive a Recovery?

Petroleum Coke Prices Dip in North America Amidst Economic Changes: Will the Construction Industry Drive a Recovery?

  • 09-Aug-2023 3:51 PM
  • Journalist: Peter Schmidt

In July 2023, the price of Petroleum Coke (Pet Coke) in North America experienced a notable decrease. This decline was attributed to a confluence of changes occurring within the economy. Notably, within the United States, a significant player in this market, the price of a specific variant of Pet Coke, known as "Petroleum Coke Fuel Grade 4.5% Sulphur FOB USGC (USA)," underwent a substantial reduction – plummeting by approximately 5.3%. Simultaneously, another category, referred to as "Petroleum Coke Calcined Grade FOB USGC (USA)," also witnessed a price decrease, amounting to around 2.6%. These shifts can be attributed to various economic factors that were unfolding.

Among the variables that impacted Pet Coke's price, the downstream construction and housing market in the USA played a pivotal role. The housing market functions as an indicator of economic performance, and its deceleration was evident. A diminished supply of available homes for purchase prompted an increased interest in new home construction. Paradoxically, despite this demand, the initiation of new housing projects dwindled when contrasted with the period preceding these developments. The government, operating through the Federal Reserve, also intervened to manage the acceleration of price levels. The government restrained consumer spending by raising interest rates and consequently elevating the cost of borrowing funds, subsequently influencing the demand for commodities such as Pet Coke. The government intended to curb price escalation while sidestepping a severe economic downturn.

Strikingly, even amidst these transformative changes, the US job market struggled. Ordinarily, periods of high-interest rates coincide with a surge in unemployment rates. Nevertheless, the unemployment rate remained unexpectedly low, surpassing levels observed before the pandemic. Over a span of about three years since March 2020, the economy introduced a noteworthy four million jobs, yielding an unemployment rate of 3.6% – a figure lower than pre-pandemic statistics. This panorama elucidates the subdued construction activity across the nation and the decreased demand for Pet Coke during this specific timeframe. Concurrently, wage patterns also underwent alteration. Surprisingly, wages ascended unexpectedly in June, exhibiting a year-on-year growth rate of 4.4%. While this growth rate was less than the preceding year's figures, it still exceeded the government's targeted inflation rate of 2%.

Considering the broader economic landscape, the US construction industry was striving for growth but confronted a significant hurdle – an insufficient pool of skilled laborers to fulfill the required tasks. This labor shortage impeded their capacity to meet the demand for new projects, buildings, and essential construction materials like Pet Coke, underscoring the intricate challenges confronting the economy.

According to ChemAnalyst, the price of Pet Coke may improve in the second half of August 2023 as the demand for Pet Coke from the downstream construction industry may show some positive outlook due to decreasing inflation pressure.

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