Oil, wheat, nickel storm higher on fears of supply chaos

Oil jumps to 2008 highs, Brent soars past $139/barrel as U.S., Europe mull Russian import ban

March 07, 2022 07:46 pm | Updated March 08, 2022 03:32 am IST

Commodity prices went on the rampage on Monday as industrial buyers and traders scrambled to source raw materials hit by supply disruptions caused by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Nickel soared 30%, platinum hit a record and gold broke through $2,000 an ounce on safe-haven appeal, while oil and wheat jumped to 14-year highs.

"Nerves of steel will be needed amid the extreme volatility," analyst Daniel Briesemann at Commerzbank in Frankfurt wrote in a note.

Russia's invasion has been condemned around the world, sent more than 1.5 million Ukrainians fleeing abroad, and triggered sweeping sanctions that have isolated Russia to a degree never before experienced by such a large economy.

Commodity markets have been shaken not only by tough Western sanctions on Russia that might be widened to include oil, but logistics turmoil that has blocked the flow of grains and metals from the region.

The searing rally in raw material prices has sparked concerns over economic growth in countries still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I suspect growth projections for 2022 around the world will need to be sharply revised lower, and it will be interesting to see what the central banks of the world will do, " OANDA senior analyst Jeffrey Halley said in a report.

Oil prices spiked after the United States and European allies said they were considering banning imports of Russian oil.

Brent crude surged as much as 17.8% to $139.13 a barrel, its highest since July 2008, when it hit a record of $147.50.

JPMorgan analysts said oil could soar to $185 this year, while analysts at Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc said it may rise to $180 and cause a global recession.

Worries about an oil ban also roiled European gas prices, which hit record highs.

The panic spurred investors to take cover in gold, regarded as a safe haven from turmoil in other markets.

Spot gold hit $2,002.40, its highest since August 2020.

Holdings of the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, SPDR Gold Trust, rose 0.4% to 1,054.3 tonnes on Friday - their highest since mid-March 2021.

Palladium bounded 15% higher to an all-time peak of $3,440 an ounce on fears of shortages of the metal used by automakers in catalytic converters, since Russia accounts for 40% of global production.

Industrial metals also lurched higher, led by nickel, which surged more than 30% as global supply chains tried to price in the possible absence of supplies from Russia, the third largest nickel producer.

Russia accounts for 7% of global nickel mine production and 6% of the world's aluminium output.

Chinese ferrous futures also gained ground, with iron ore hitting a six-month high after a downbeat economic forecast over the weekend lifted expectations for more infrastructure spending in the world's second largest economy.

On agricultural markets, Chicago wheat futures rose more than 6%, hitting a 14-year top as traders worried about the impact the Ukraine conflict is having on supplies from Russia, the world's biggest wheat exporter, and Ukraine.

With Ukrainian ports closed and operators reluctant to trade Russian wheat in the face of Western financial sanctions, buyers are trying to find alternative suppliers.

Russia and Ukraine together account for about 29% of global wheat exports and 19% of corn exports.

Top News Today

Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.