Commodities

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The rise in the yen has added to Japan's Soga Sosha financial strength. The trading houses search for suitable asset plays in the commodity sector, wary of debt financed plays and high prices they are looking for cash spends.

Production of primary aluminium in China rose 13.4 percent in 2017, but due to the capacity control measurements introduced in 2017 production increase is expected to pull back to around 4-6 percent in 2018.

Australia's coal exports hit a record high A$56.5 billion ($44.21 billion) in 2017, the previous record was A$46.7 billion in 2011. Exports from New South Wales and Queensland of thermal and metallurgical coal were up 35% year on year. 

Australian Iron ore exports to China from the world's largest export terminal, Port Hedland fell to six-month low in January. Exports were affected by Cyclone Joyce, China bottlenecks and year end. 

Sociedad QuĂ­mica y Minera de Chile $SQM finalized a deal to expand production at one of the biggest sources of lithium in a drawn out deal with the Chilean economic development agency (CORFO). The deal saw Lithium producer' stocks sold off hard on new supply.

India is home to huge demand for gold with buyers subject to speculative market cycles. In a move to allow hedging of this risk the India market regulator moved to allow commodity exchanges to start trading options in 2017. 

The premium for Nickel full plate cathodes hit an 11 year high in Europe Metal Bulletin reported. The premium for the preferred stainless steel type nickel has been rising since June. The price flowed through to Shanghai nickel prices.

Timing is everything, in a week where Australia's balance of trade was a surprise deficit and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions moved to dismantle American Medical Marijuana, Australia moved to become the world's biggest supplier.

Commodities for the most part came to the fore in 2017 led by palladium, rebar, lumber, base metals and oil. The worst performers were orange juice, sugar and natural gas. 

Bitcoin is now available on the two largest American futures exchanges, the CBOE and the CME. It has been a volatile week as Bitcoin slides 25% lower heading into Christmas. We take a look at the pros and cons of the two contracts.

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