Commodities

Soft commodity demand

Sea freight index sinks to 28-year low

TOKYO -- Spot rates for cargo ships that transport raw materials are diving fast. The benchmark Baltic Dry Index came to 632 on Thursday, plunging 60% from a high in November. The figure also represents a 40% drop on the year and the lowest in m...

  • Not yet the bottom of the barrel?

    Speculators jump into crude oil market

    TOKYO -- Investors the world over are pouring money into the crude oil market as the commodity's price continues to tumble. International trading of U.S. oil futures contracts has climbed about 20% from the level seen at the end of November, whil...

  • Tin market slackens

    Prices slide as worries over Indonesian supplies ease

    TOKYO -- The global tin market has softened as concern about Indonesia's supply deficit ebbs. The benchmark price on the London Metal Exchange came in at roughly $19,400 per ton on Wednesday, a 6% drop from a recent high in early December. In...

  • DANIEL ANG

    Reversal in sight for WTI crude

    West Texas Intermediate crude prices are at a five and a half year lows. They have plummeted below $50. Early last year, WTI was trading above $100, meaning the drop in slightly over six months has been more than 50%. With oil playing such a crucial ...

  • Asian steel glut

    Raw materials prices tumble on flagging demand

    TOKYO -- Falling steel prices in Asia due to a market glut are pushing down prices of iron ore, coking coal and scap iron -- materials used to make the metal. On Monday, for example, the benchmark Australian iron ore price dropped 4% from the pre...

  • Petrochemical feedstock

    Naphtha price in Asia keeps sliding on loose market

    TOKYO -- The price of naphtha, a feedstock for petrochemical products, keeps falling in Asia as the supply-demand balance loosens. The Asian spot price of naphtha for delivery in two months is roughly $420-430 per ton, less than half the peak rea...

  • Plunging polypropylene prices

    Cheaper crude triggers sharp drop

    TOKYO -- The price of polypropylene plastic has fallen sharply in Asia on lower crude oil prices and reduced procurement in anticipation of further declines. The East Asian spot price of $950 to $990 a ton marks its first time under $1,000 in nea...

  • Oil seer looks ahead

    Saudis could change tack once crude falls under $40

    NEW YORK -- While many have been caught off guard by the recent plunge in crude oil prices, Harvard University Associate Leonardo Maugeri predicted the collapse back in 2012. The Nikkei spoke to him about the role of Saudi Arabia and U.S. shale oil ...

  • Crude oil prices

    Gap between WTI, Brent shrinks on US recovery hopes

    TOKYO -- With crude oil continuing its downtrend, the gap between the international and American benchmarks is narrowing because of ample storage space in the U.S. combined with expectations of an economic recovery there. The per-barrel price of ...

  • Goodbye, 'Asian premium'

    Buyers ready to benefit from LNG's free fall

    TOKYO -- The spot price of liquefied natural gas is in free fall. In fact, Japan appears to have a number of cheap options for its power. Besides the falling LNG price, the cost of crude oil is diving and some of the country's idled nuclear plant...

  • Increasing demand

    Carbon fiber prices up 10% in 2014

    TOKYO -- The price of general-purpose carbon fiber, used for sports gear, aircraft and automobiles, rose 10% in 2014. As demand increased, Japan's Toray Industries, Teijin and Mitsubishi Rayon, which occupy just above half the global carbon fiber...

  • Crude inventories

    Excess supply triggers scramble for storage

    LONDON -- Crude oil inventories have reached record highs in developed economies, further weighing down prices and driving companies to consider new storage options, including offshore, for handling the glut. Members of the Organization for Econo...

  • Gasoline in Japan

    Drop in pump prices fails to match crude oil's tumble

    TOKYO -- With the recent sell-off in crude oil, Japanese gasoline prices are falling as well, though retail prices have not come down nearly as much as oil has due to the consumption tax hike and the yen's weakness versus the dollar. Through last...

  • Interview with Daniel Yergin

    Oil guru sees prices rebounding next year

    WASHINGTON -- The price of crude oil will turn upward again next year as U.S. output comes down, predicts energy expert Daniel Yergin. The author of "The Prize," a Pulitzer Prize-winning history of the oil industry, Yergin serves as vice chairman...

  • Swiss franc turmoil

    Gold surges as investors seek safe haven

    TOKYO -- The Swiss National Bank's sudden change in its intervention policy has thrown the foreign exchange markets into disarray, sparking a flight to the relative safety of gold. New York gold futures stood at around $1,260 per troy ounce in af...

  • Iron ore

    Fortescue under scrutiny as Australian crisis deepens

    BANGKOK -- Debt laden Fortescue Metals Group, the world's fourth largest iron ore miner by production volume, is coming under growing market scrutiny amid slowing economic growth in China, the biggest importer of the commodity. Iron ore prices fe...

  • Itsuo Toshima

    Hedge funds, oil money may rock markets in 2015

    TOKYO -- A major change is going to take place in the global flow of money in 2015. Hedge funds are no longer alone facing the market headwinds -- they've got company, in the form of big-money groups driven by oil money. Market players will have to c...

  • China's excess steel

    Beijing curbs export incentives but critics see same old spillover

    TOKYO -- After taking flak from other Asian countries, China at the end of last year scaled back incentives for metal alloy exports. Critics, however, say the change is not enough to stem the flood of cheap Chinese steel. The alloy issue dates ba...

  • Commodity market

    Oil, nonferrous metals continue slide

    TOKYO -- International prices of crude oil, copper and other commodities keep falling, as worries persist that demand may slow in China and other emerging markets. Dubai crude, the benchmark for the Asian market, dropped to $42.60 a barrel on Wed...

  • Japan's coral trade

    Prices up as export volume rises 26% on the year

    TOKYO -- Japan exported roughly 11,400 tons of coral from January through November 2014, up 26% on the year and the largest figure apart from 2012, according to trade statistics. In 2004, Japan exported only 68 tons of coral. China was the larges...