Currency update

Setting out to analyse the market outlook for 2024, there are plenty of unknowns and looming uncertainties that make it difficult to convincingly predict the course of the markets in the year ahead. On both sides of the Atlantic, increased odds of a recession, a dovish pivot in the monetary policies and general elections are foreseen as the key factors driving price action in 2024, however, geopolitics will continue to add a degree of uncertainty to the global economy and financial markets. The Russia-Ukraine conflict is still active, and the Israel-Hamas war does not appear to have an end in sight.

FX Monthly movement

  • US$/ £ 1.27
  • US$/ € 1.08
  • £/€ 1.17
  • As we have all seen most of the key central banks were in sync on policy during 2023. The ECB, Fed and BoE all hiked rates throughout H1, before putting policy on hold as H2 progressed. Markets think that the ECB, Fed and BoE will stay in sync in 2024, with substantial rate cuts priced in across the board.
  • A general election is expected this year in the US and the UK, which could fuel intense volatility around dollar crosses. Amidst looming inflation and growth concerns, the political developments on both sides of the Atlantic are likely to be closely followed.
  • After 13 years of Conservative government, which has largely been blamed for failing the economy, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is almost certain to call a general election in 2024. UK general elections have to be held no more than five years apart, so the next one must take place by January 28 2025. Following a series of record-breaking by-election defeats, disastrous events from 2020 to 2022 and with the Tories still lagging behind Labour in the polls, PM Rishi Sunak and his party are set for tumultuous times in the year ahead.
  • In the US, the Democratic and Republican primaries kicked off in January, with markets expecting a battle once again between the incumbent President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump on November 5. A lack of confidence in Biden’s ability to handle various issues, including economic and immigration policy, has caused his approval ratings to reach a record low of 33%, according to a poll by Washington-based think tank Pew Research Centre. Most of the nationwide opinion polling for the 2024 presidential election shows former President Trump leading President Biden in key swing states that will likely decide the 2024 election.
  • Geopolitical developments can lead to further deglobalization, and possibly a fragmenting of the global economy, both of which can place new downward pressure on global activity. In addition, multiple meaningful elections will take place in 2024, and while not all will be affected by geopolitics or create local financial market volatility, select votes can create disruption and alter the global political landscape.

To conclude

Many of the themes that drove the global economy and financial markets in 2023 will be present again in 2024. The health of the global economy, the monetary policy response, and the direction of geopolitics and local politics should come to move markets and shape economies in the coming year. 2023 had its challenges, but overall, the global economy and risk assets performed well. 2024 could see more challenges, particularly as the global economy enters a period of below-average growth and the political calendar is full.

As we head into a more challenging economic environment and uncertain political climate, the global economy may struggle to “weather the storm” once again. As conditions evolve over the coming year, feel free to get in touch with (jasonguest@alphafx.co.uk) and ask how they can help.

Commentary supplied by Alpha FX, London

General news

Supply chain challenges dominate the recent period, with delays on planned supplies plus significant cost increases being absorbed by shippers once again. Some do not have the appetite for this and it is leading to price renegotiation or contract cancelation. We would urge all customers to plan well ahead of demand, since a definite implication of these challenges is that shippers will hold less free inventory for ‘spot’ sales.

Chinese Spring festival starts on 10th February and lasts until 24th. This means really no shipments will leave China until early March, so not arriving until end April. This is likely to cause stock challenges combined with the above issues.

We are pleased to confirm we passed our annual BRC audit retaining our AA grade, and receiving only one minor non-conformance.

Finally we have expanded our range of products introducing Chinese Walnuts to our range. With our Chinese colleagues able to work with processors locally we are confident of managing the quality directly and offering a competitive high quality product. Please ask your Unicorn contact for more details.

Pumpkinseed kernels

The market has been quite firm, buoyed by domestic demand prior to the Spring festival and now with EU demand due to the extended supply chain and possible inventory shortfalls. We do not expect dramatic increases but equally do not anticipate a decline in prices, especially when combined with the freight increases and strong US dollar.

Linseed

Availability of material from suppliers is limited currently as global availability is reduced by around 30%, which would indicate a general firmness going forward. As often happens Golden linseed is even shorter so the differential between the grades is likely to continue to widen.

China continues to be a preferred and easily accessible customer for Kazakhstan, with less demands for the consumption grades than EU/UK. As ever cheap prices generally mean Russian origin material moved across the boarder in to Poland

Sesame seed

The market has stayed quite static over the last month, with perhaps a small downward trend. As in China local demand influences prices, and with the Kite Flying celebration behind us, this demand has weakened.

Ultimately though India is now disadvantaged over supply to EU compared with Nigeria due to the Red Sea issues adding significant freight costs. However it has won significant quantities in tenders with South Korea, not impacted by freight changes and this will hold prices firm, especially if the reduced plantings for their summer crop turn out to be true forecasts.

Perhaps more important in sesame supply is the African situation which is challenged by general disruption, especially in Sudan. The EU is increasing its imports of African natural seed meanwhile, but processing facilities are generally not of GFSI standard.

In Central America crops are definitely short. Venezuela which normally plants now finds farmers hindered by a lack of diesel, meaning they are likely to have no significant harvest again. Brazil where sesame is a second crop, planted in February is suffering a serious drought which will impact on yield and planting for sure. But their major problem remains as pesticide contamination.  All in all sesame could surprisingly turn bullish again.

Hulled Millet

Temperament in East EU is increasing to further limit Ukrainian imports to avoid cheap competition for their own farmers and processors. These decisions are in progress and will impact supply and price for SH 2024. Currently however material is freely available and being offered at competitive levels from all origins. It seems a good time to extend cover.

Sunflower

Whilst the base price has failed to increase despite indications to the contrary, the major issue here is now the impact of freight surcharges for sales to USA and China. These are quite significant and the low price of the material does not permit margins to absorb these movements. It isa likely to lead to renegotiation or contract nonperformance. This is less of an issue in EU/UK.

Poppy

As previously stated several times, availability is tight, especially for low alkaloid qualities. The cheaper sources are impacted by significant supply chain challenges.

Quinoa

Peruvian shippers continue to struggle to find batches that will pass EU/UK pre shipment analysis requirements for pesticides. This does not stop all exports of non-compliant material since there is currently no testing regime in place for consignments, it is purely a responsibility of importers to buy compliant lots.

Difficult/dry weather in the growing period gives little optimism ahead of new crop, but the picture will be clearer by end April.

Other origins are looking to capitalise on the price instability, it remains to be see how they will perform in 2024. Certainly, India is offering from April onwards, and of course there is a growing EU production these days. China is also starting to produce quinoa for domestic demand which will hit South American exports in due course.

Chia

  • Various reports of distressed material at EU/US ports are being received, confirming the previously stated quality issues.
  • So, care of supply recommended as processors try to offload material. If a price looks too good, it should be questioned.
  • Argentina continues to provide cheap material, often not EU suitable, giving the market a softer feel.
  • Average transit time is increasing and freight costs are forecasted to increase by the summer.

Get in touch

Frank Horan
Frank HoranDirector
Nikki Divers
Nikki DiversDirector
Jake Yerrell
Jake YerrellCommercial Manager
Vera Grosse-Drieling
Vera Grosse-DrielingCommercial Manager
Micaela Camantigue
Micaela CamantigueAccount Manager