This Morning in Metals: Winter weather to further strain energy supplies in Europe

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This morning in metals news: a cold winter season will continue to put strain on European energy supplies; the U.S. international trade deficit declined from September to October; and, lastly, U.S. job openings increased in October.

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Energy prices under the microscope amid chilly weather in Europe

natural gas tap

PhotocreoBednarek/Adobe Stock

Europe is bracing for the winter season, which brings with it further strain on already strained energy supplies.

Storm Barra impacted Ireland and the United Kingdom on Tuesday, bombarding the islands with rain and snow.

According to ICE data, Dutch TTF gas futures for January 2022 picked up in November, rising from €67 per megawatt hour Nov. 1 to €96 per megawatt hour this week.

As we noted on the heels of the October price spike, rising energy costs impacted European zinc producers, like Nyrstar and Glencore. LME zinc jumped to $3,757 per metric ton in October but fell to around $3,200 to start November. Since then, the price has trended sideways but remains elevated, according to MetalMiner Insights data.

Russia is the largest supplier of natural gas supply to Europe; rising gas costs contributed to production cutbacks from the aforementioned zinc producers. On Nov. 22, the U.S. announced sanctions against two vessels and one Russia-linked entity related to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, President Joe Biden spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin amid rising tensions at the Russia-Ukraine border.

“President Biden voiced the deep concerns of the United States and our European Allies about Russia’s escalation of forces surrounding Ukraine and made clear that the U.S. and our Allies would respond with strong economic and other measures in the event of military escalation,” the White House said in a release. “President Biden reiterated his support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and called for de-escalation and a return to diplomacy.”

 

US trade deficit dips in October

The U.S. international trade deficit fell from $81.4 billion in September to $67.1 billion in October, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported.

Meanwhile, the goods deficit fell by $14 billion to $83.9 billion.

“The increase in imports of goods reflected increases in automotive vehicles, parts, and engines ($1.5 billion) and in consumer goods ($0.9 billion),” the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported. “Decreases in industrial supplies and materials ($0.5 billion) and in capital goods ($0.5 billion) partly offset the increases.”

Job openings rise

Lastly, job openings in the U.S. increased to 11 million as of the last day of October, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported.

Openings increased by 45,000 in the nondurable goods manufacturing sector. Furthermore, the quits rate fell to 2.8% after a series high in September, the bureau reported.

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