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A weaker dollar supports nonferrous prices, while geopolitical risk resurfaces in oil markets

April 02, 2015 - Weekly Pricing Pulse

The IHS Materials Price Index (MPI) increased 1.6% last week, as rising oil and nonferrous prices outweighed a seventh consecutive decline in ferrous metal markets. Iron ore prices are now at their lowest point since the collapse of annual contracts during the height of the financial crisis.

Geopolitical risks boiled over in markets, with oil prices seeing their largest gain since early February. Building uncertainty in a number of OPEC countries pushed the needle—as tense presidential elections in Nigeria, the prospect of an 11th-hour nuclear agreement with Iran, and a deteriorating situation in Yemen put markets on edge.

Last week also saw the strongest downward move in the US dollar since 2012, as a “looser-longer” view of the Federal Reserve’s interest rate trajectory became the baseline outlook. The week ahead will be data heavy with the latest European inflation numbers, global manufacturing PMI reports, and Friday’s US employment report to be released. The MPI is on track for its eighth monthly decline in March, with these data releases likely to shed light on whether a bottom may be near.

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