Weekly Wrap – Global recession begins to bite hard; India limps back nervously from lockdown

The forensic results of the global pandemic have started coming out. Unemployment all across the world is reaching frightening levels. Employment in Britain fell by the most since 2009 in the April-June period, according to official data published last week.

The country has fallen into a recession. The Bank of England forecast the jobless rate would hit 7.5% at the end of this year, almost double its most recent reading.

French unemployment fell to a 37-year low in the second quarter. The jobless rate fell to 7.1%, from 7.8% in the first quarter, hitting its lowest level since the second quarter of 1983, when it stood at 7.0%.

The number of unemployed Australians actively looking for work has surpassed 1 million for the first time. According to data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), the unemployment rate was 7.5 percent in July – up from 7.4 percent in June – the highest level since November 1998.

Sweden, Japan, U.S. and most G-20 nations are declaring the onset of recession. Meanwhile, the International Monetary Fund is exploring additional tools to provide financing to the world’s poorest countries and others hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

Agriculture

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched a Rs 1 lakh crore Agriculture Infrastructure Fund to support community farming and help farmers get a better price for their products right at their doorstep during the week. The farm infrastructure fund is aimed at creating better storage that will reduce wastage as well as enable farmers to sell as per market conditions.

Nearly a third of India’s fruits and vegetables go waste due to lack of storage space, while around 10% of food crops never reach consumers because of spoilage. It is not yet clear how the infrastructure will be created or used. Meanwhile India has launched its first refrigerated commodity train called Kisan Rail to help farmers send their produce from Maharashtra and Bihar.

Tea production in India has suffered a massive loss of 34.95 per cent so far this calendar year compared to the same period of 2019. Reports about illegal tea being imported from neighbouring countries and sold in India have upset the domestic tea growers. They have demanded to increase import duty on tea or ban tea imports altogether.

Metals

In one of its worst performances, Tata Steel reported a consolidated net loss of Rs 4,609 crore for the June quarter, higher than most estimates. With much of the country locked down for most of the first three months of the current fiscal, revenues were severely hit, falling 32% to Rs 24,289 crore as deliveries declined more than 20%.

But the Indian steel sector seems to be on the road to recovery with companies increasing prices by around Rs 2,020 per tonne across all products this month on the back of better demand and rising global prices, industry officials said. This is the second hike in less than a month after companies raised the metal price by about Rs 745 per tonne in July.

State-run Steel Authority of India said its bookings remain strong even after the recent price hike. Domestic steel prices are following the international price trajectory that saw a strong recovery on increasing demand from China.

Domestic demand is also on the rise. ArcelorMittal Nippon Steel India Chairman Aditya Mittal, son of steel baron LN Mittal, said that operations at ArcelorMittal Nippon Steel India’s (formerly Essar Steel) Hazira plant in Gujarat are running at full capacity.

Gold

Gold prices fell in Indian markets this week on the back of profit booking due to rise in US yields, recovery of US Dollar and development of COVID-19 vaccine by Russia. Gold tumbled 3.4 per cent, which was the worst daily drop since 2013, below $1900 and then gained as much as 2 per cent thus giving a single day move of almost 6 per cent.

It took nine trading sessions for gold to climb from $1900 to $2000 an ounce while it took just 1 day to crash from $2000 to $1890. Similarly silver, which took four trading sessions to gain from $25 to $30 an ounce, took just one trading session to crash from $29 to $23.50 an ounce.

Last week, gold prices were 46 per cent up from March lows of Rs 38,500 per 10 grams, while silver prices rallied over 132 per cent to hit their respective record highs.

Energy

The International Energy Agency expects crude oil demand this year to be 8.1 million barrels per day lower than it was in 2019, a downward demand forecast revision of 140,000 bpd, the authority said in its latest Oil Market Report.

A day earlier, OPEC also admitted that demand this year would be weaker than it expected previously. WTI and Brent remained in a narrow range, although their foothold in the $40s feels more solid than it has in the past. EIA data this week showed another decent stock decline, along with an uptick in gasoline demand. 

India continues to have a sluggish demand growth for fuel, and diesel in particular, indicating the country is limping back, but nervously. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *