Oil, wheat and aluminum jump as sanctions on Russia bite

Pratima Desai, Reuters

Posted at Mar 02 2022 07:50 PM

 Wheat stalks during the harvest season at a field in Sana’a, Yemen, 08 December 2021. Yahya Arhab, EPA-EFE
Wheat stalks during the harvest season at a field in Sana’a, Yemen, 08 December 2021. Yahya Arhab, EPA-EFE

LONDON - Brent crude jumped to near eight-year highs, wheat to 14-year peaks and aluminum hit a record as the Russian attack on Ukraine intensified and Western sanctions disrupted air and sea transport of commodities exported by Russia.

Russian forces were attempting to subdue Ukrainian cities, seven days into an invasion that has sparked massive sanctions, pushing international companies to halt sales, cut ties and dump billions of dollars' worth of investments. 

Brent climbed above $113 a barrel to its highest since June 2014, a gain of more than 40 percent so far this year. 

"Oil has been pushing higher on growing perceptions that Russian oil is unable to be "transacted"," ED&F Man Capital Markets analyst Edward Meir.

"Although oil is not technically under sanction, traders are understandably nervous about taking delivery of Russian crude, let alone storing, shipping and ultimately selling it."

Russia accounts for about 10 percent of global oil supplies. Russia and Ukraine account for about 29 percent of wheat exports. Wheat prices hit $10.59 a bushel, the highest since March 2008.

Corn prices rose to $7.47-3/4 a bushel, the highest since Dec. 2012. 

"Global buyers of grains have been increasingly turning to the US, Europe or South America to secure supplies in the immediate term, given the ongoing conflict," ING said in a note.

"Moreover, demand for stockpiling has also increased due to current uncertainty."

Dutch gas prices hit an all-time high of 185 euros a MWh after the UK ordered its ports to deny entry to Russian-owned ships and European Union countries considered a similar ban after a halt on air traffic. 

Russia supplies the European Union with 40 percent of its gas needs. It accounts for 40 percent of global mined palladium output, 10 percent of nickel supplies and 6 percent of global aluminum production. 

Palladium prices around $2,610 an ounce were trading near the seven month peak hit on Tuesday, aluminum hit a record high at $3,552 a tonne and nickel at $25,530 a tonne, close to the 11-year high hit last week.

"Supply outages from Russia are now but a question of time," Commerzbank analysts said in a note.

"Depending on how long they last, they could cause turmoil – in which case prices would rise significantly further."

Malaysian palm oil futures rose past 7,000 ringgit a tonne to hit a record high, on the prospect of rising demand as the closure of Ukrainian ports hits supplies of sunoil from the Black Sea region. 

Newcastle coal futures jumped to records above $300 a tonne as buyers scrambled to find alternatives to supplies from Russia, the third largest exporter after Indonesia and Australia.

(Reporting by Pratima Desai; additional reporting by Nigel Hunt, Susanna Twidale and Gavin Maguire; editing by Jon Boyle)



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