Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Capital Markets: "Even When She Speaks Softly, She's Yellen"

From Marc to Market:

Overview: The animal spirits are on the march today. Equities are mostly higher, peripheral European bonds are firm, and the dollar is mostly softer. After posting the first back-to-back decline this year, the MSCI Asia Pacific Index bounced back today, led by a 2.7% gain in Hong Kong (20-month high) and a 2.6% rise in South Korea's Kospi. The Nikkei and Taiwan's Stock Exchange rose by more than 1%. Europe's Dow Jones Stoxx 600 eked out a small gain yesterday and is a little higher today. The S&P 500 fell in the last two sessions for a loss of a little more than 1% and is trading about 0.6% better now. The US 10-year is firm at 1.11%, while European bonds are little changed, and the periphery is doing better than the core. Of note, France's 50-year bond sale was greeted with a record reception. The dollar is lower against all the major currencies, but the yen. Most emerging market currencies are firmer as well. We see the dollar's pullback as part of the larger correction that began almost two weeks ago.. Gold recovered smartly from yesterday's test on $1800 to return to the 200-day moving average (~$1845). February WTI reversed lower ahead of the long holiday weekend and made a marginal new low today (~$51.75) before recovering nearly a dollar.

Asia Pacific

According to the recent government data, China's rare earth exports fell by more than a quarter to what Reuters estimates are the lowest in five years. China attributed it to weaker global demand, but there is something else going on. Yesterday, China indicated that a new mechanism will be created to decide, coordinate, and regulate the rare earth supply chain (including mining, processes, and exporting). Rather than exporting rare earths, China's industrial policy aims to export products containing rare earths. Move up the value-added chain. The big push now apparently is for batteries for electric vehicles. The PRC has become a net importer of rare earths that it processes. Its imports often come from mines it owns outright or has an important stake. For example, the Democratic Republic of Congo is responsible for 60% of the world's cobalt. There are 12 mines, and reports suggest China has a stake in each, and more than 85% of the cobalt exports are headed to China. In 2018, China provided around 80% of US rare earths, and at least one mine in the US sends the material to China to be processed....


Now don't go mixing up cobalt with the rare earth elements. If you want to group them together the old (1980's) nomenclature was Strategic Minerals now expanded to 35 Critical Minerals. That is double the 17 rare earth elements, many of which are not critical:



Cobalt (Co) is in the middle of the periodic table between iron and nickel and above rhodium.