Commodities continue their strong rises due to the war in Ukraine.
- Twelve days into the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Russian forces continue to make slow progress and are clearly taking heavy losses, with Ukraine claiming 11,000 Russian soldiers killed. The Ukrainian government claims the Russians are preparing for an all-out assault on the capital Kiev. Yesterday the US signaled it would not oppose any NATO member prepared to donate aircraft to Ukraine, although it is not clear this will happen. President Putin has said this would be taken as an act of war, although he has used similar language to refer to the sanctions against Russia which have already been imposed.
- The war in Ukraine and resultant nuclear threats from Russia are having a strong impact on financial markets, with stocks falling, and energies and many agricultural commodities rising to long-term highs, with no end in sight. The Ukrainian government yesterday banned the export of several agricultural products, including buckwheat, and imposed licensing requirements on others.
- WTI Crude Oil continues to rise strongly due to the war in Ukraine, and during the early Tokyo session exceeded $125 per barrel, a new 13-year high price. Crude Oil is now at a price which will begin to impact global economic growth. The US is currently in talks with Venezuela and Iran, two major oil producers, and may move to ban Russian oil imports, although markets are reluctant to buy Russian oil anyway.
- Stock markets are starting this week firmly lower. The Japanese market is down by more than 3% today. European markets are expected to open sharply lower.
- The price of Gold touched $2,000 an ounce during the earlier Tokyo session, and may well go on to test its all-time high of $2,075 later this week.
- The EUR/USD currency pair opened this week with a gap down, and traded as low as $1.0821, close to a 2-year low. The Euro is currently the weakest major currency in the Forex market due to the economic and political impact of the growing economic boycott and fear that the war in Ukraine may widen to become an Europe-wide conflagration. The Euro has dropped below parity with the Swiss Franc for the first time since 2015.
- In the Forex market, the commodity currencies – the AUD, NZD, and CAD – are strong.
- Wheat and corn futures are expected to open higher later today at high prices which have not been seen for some years.
- Daily new coronavirus cases globally seem to have peaked six weeks ago, showing that the omicron variant wave is in strong decline almost everywhere.
- It is estimated that 63.2% of the world’s population has received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccination.
- Total confirmed new coronavirus cases worldwide stand at over 446.7 million with an average case fatality rate of 1.35%.
- The rate of new coronavirus infections appears to now be increasing only in Bhutan, Brunei, China, South Korea, Liechtenstein, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand, Tonga, and Vietnam.