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Dry Commodities Outlook: A Closer Look at Steel, Coal and Agricultural Markets in 2023-2024

Updated: Mar 8


IMF - The IMF has released its latest World Economic Outlook noting that the global recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine remains slow and uneven. This was their conclusion before the onset of the conflict between Israel and Gaza. Global growth is forecast to slow from 3.5% in 2022 to 3.0% in 2023 and to 2.9% in 2024, down 0.1% from July’s update. Advanced economies are expected to see a more pronounced slowdown from 2.6% in 2022 to 1.5% in 2023 and 1.4% in 2024. Stronger-than-expected US momentum has been offset by weaker-than-expected growth in the euro area. The organisation sees risks to their outlook for the world economy as more balanced compared to six months earlier but still tilted to the downside.


The World Steel Association’s latest Short-Range Outlook has downgraded global steel demand growth in 2023 from 2.3% six months earlier to 1.8% after contracting by 3.3% in 2022. 2024 global steel demand growth was raised to 1.9% from 1.7% in the previous report. The WSA noted that steel demand has been impacted by high inflation and the interest rate environment. It also expects China’s property market to stabilise in the latter part of this year. The WSA expects China’s steel demand to grow by 2.0% this year following a contraction of 3.5% in 2022. However, growth is forecast to be flat in 2024. India is expected to continue to rapidly expand its consumption of finished steel products, up from 9.3% growth in 2022 to 8.6% growth in 2023 and 7.7% growth in 2024.


IEA-WEO – The International Energy Agency has released its latest World Energy Outlook. Under its Stated Policies Scenario based on latest government policy settings, world coal demand is set to fall from 5.807 million tonnes coal equivalent (Mtce) in 2022 to 5,007 Mtce in 2030. Global power sector coal demand is set to fall from 3,769 to 3,030 Mtce over the same period. The IEA notes that in the power sector, coal transitions are complicated by the relatively young age of coal plants across much if the Asia-Pacific region. Between 2022 and 2030, global steam coal production is forecast to fall from 4,888 to 3,974 Mtce while global peat and lignite production is expected to reduce from 246 to 146 Mtce.


An official at the National Energy Administration suggested that China’s maximum power demand this winter may increase by 140 gigawatts or 12.1% from last year’s peak. The NEA also reported that China’s power demand in September rose 9.9% year-on-year as economic activity picked up.

China’s output of raw coal rose 3% year-on-year in the first nine months of 2023 to total 3.44 billion tonnes according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

4,888 to 3,974 Mtce while global peat and lignite production is expected to reduce from 246 to 146 Mtce.

INDIA - Coal inventories at Indian power plants fell at their fastest rate in two years in the first half of October, down 12.6% to 20.58 million tonnes. This is their lowest level since November 2021.

India has directed power plants using imported coal to operate at full capacity for an extended period of eight months out to June 2024 because of high energy demand and falling coal inventories and despite the growth in domestic coal output. The Power Ministry has also directed all coal-fired generators to increase imported coal in their total usage from 4% to 6% until March 2024.

VIET NAM – Viet Nam’s state-owned Vinacomin plans to nearly double its coal imports next year due to an increase in demand from utilities. The company’s coal imports are expected to rise from around 9 million tonnes this year to 16-17 million tonnes in 2024. This is also in response to stagnating domestic coal production which totalled 36.6 million tonnes in the first nine months of 2023, down 3% year-on-year.


Brazil’s food supply and statistics agency Conab expects the country to produce 162 million tonnes of soybeans in the new 2023/24 season as farmers are sowing the oilseed over a larger area. This represents a 4.8% rise compared to the previous season. However, maize production in 2023/24 is forecast at 119.4 million tonnes, down 9.5% on 2022/23, reflecting a smaller planted area and the initial effects of the El Nino weather patten.

INDIA – The Indian government had allocated quotas to sugar mills restricting sugar exports to 6.2 million tonnes in the season ending in September after allowing them to export a record 11.1 million tonnes in 2021/22. The Directorate General of Foreign Trade is reported to have now imposed a sugar export ban that will be extended beyond October following a lack of rainfall that cut cane yields.

The Indian government has cut the minimum export price for basmati rice from $1,200/tonne to $950/tonne after farmers and exporters complained that it was damaging trade by stalling shipments.

Tradeviews review all the recent important stories and events that shape dry cargo bulker demand. The intel from this report feeds our bottom up 5-year forecast. Click here to open the full report:


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