Energy & Commodities

Lumber prices crash 30% in 2 weeks as rising mortgage rates take some heat out of US housing market

  • Lumber prices have plummeted 30% over the past two weeks as the housing market cools down.
  • A surge in mortgage rates contributed to a decline in pending home sales last month, according to the National Association of Realtors.
  • Lumber is still facing supply chain disruptions after storms knocked out crucial railways in British Columbia late last year.

Lumber prices have crashed 30% over the past two weeks as rising mortgage rates help cool down the US housing market.

Lumber traded limit down multiple times last week, and was down about 5% on Tuesday. The essential building material hit a high of $1,338 per thousand board feet on January 14 before trading to a low of $934 on Tuesday.

The average 30-year fixed mortgage rate has been surging recently and jumped 50 basis points to 3.55% in late January ahead of anticipated interest rate hikes from the
Federal Reserve later this year.

And even before January’s spike, the housing market was already feeling the effects of rising mortgage rates. US pending home sales fell 3.8% month-over-month in December, and were down 6.9% year-over-year, according to the National Association of Realtors…read more.

Los Angeles City Council Votes To Ban Oil Drilling

  • The city of Los Angeles voted to ban oil drilling
  • Oil production was once one of the biggest industries in southern California, fueling the growth of Los Angeles in the first half of the 20th century
  • The vote has been welcomed by environmental activists and criticized by the oil industry

The city of Los Angeles voted to ban oil drilling in what many see as a historic decision.

The L.A. Times wrote that the city council voted unanimously to suspend oil drilling in California’s biggest city, which has also been the city with the highest concentration of urban oil wells, per Grist.

Oil production was once one of the biggest industries in southern California, fueling the growth of Los Angeles in the first half of the 20th century. Although things have changed significantly since then, L.A. wells are still producing, with the total number of producing and idle wells in the city at more than 1,000.

As expected, the vote has been welcomed by environmental activists and criticized by the oil industry…read more.

Visualizing China’s Dominance in Clean Energy Metals

Renewable sources of energy are expected to replace fossil fuels over the coming decades, and this large-scale transition will have a downstream effect on the demand of raw materials. More green energy means more wind turbines, solar panels, and batteries needed, and more clean energy metals necessary to build these technologies.

This visualization, based on data from the International Energy Agency (IEA), illustrates where the extraction and processing of key metals for the green revolution take place.

It shows that despite being the world’s biggest carbon polluter, China is also the largest producer of most of the world’s critical minerals for the green revolution.

China produces 60% of all rare earth elements used as components in high technology devices, including smartphones and computers.

The country also has a 13% share of the lithium production market, which is still dominated by Australia (52%) and Chile (22%). The highly reactive element is key to producing rechargeable batteries for mobile phones, laptops, and electric vehicles…read more.

Peter MacKay: It’s absurd for Trudeau to let China buy a Canadian lithium firm — especially without a security review

The Liberals must stop rewarding Beijing’s unconscionable behaviour

For some time now, it has seemed as if Canada’s foreign policy approach toward China has been similar to that old Abbott and Costello baseball shtick of “Who’s on First?” That is to say, Ottawa’s strategy, insofar as one can even call it that, has been a circular, confusing and nonsensical parody. The major difference is, clearly, there is no humour to be found; rather, this comedy of errors carries only dire consequences for Canada.

The Trudeau government’s latest confounding abdication of common sense stands out for being particularly egregious. Ottawa has allowed a Chinese state-owned company, Zijin Mining, to bid on a Canadian-owned lithium mining operation, Neo Lithium Corp. The government has done this while abandoning the national security review that accompanies such purchases. The Liberals claim this is a non-issue as Neo Lithium’s operation is not in Canada, even though the headquarters is based here. But this just speaks to their narrow-minded naiveté about the threat posed by China.

Surely the Trudeau government knows that critical minerals like lithium are crucial to addressing the climate crisis. It is therefore absurd that we are allowing China to capture an even greater presence over resources critical to the green transition. A major polluter and unwilling climate partner, it defies logic that Ottawa would further cede control to China over global climate efforts by allowing it to solidify dominance over this sector…read more.

Canada Sees Oil Investment Rise 22% In 2022

Investments in crude oil this year in Canada could rise by as much as 22 percent, according to the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.

While this is an improvement over 2021, the expected spending total of US$26.2 billion (C$32.8 billion) is still much lower than the annual industry spending a decade ago, CAPP said as quoted by CBC.

“Today we’re at $32 billion, and we’re only capturing about six per cent of global investment,” CAPP president Tim McMillan said. “We’ve lost ground to other oil and gas producers, which I think is problematic for a lot of reasons … and it leaves billions of dollars of investment that is going somewhere else, and not to Canada.”

Canadian oil production is set to increase by 18 percent this year, according to the national energy industry regulator. That would come in at a total of close to 4 million barrels of crude daily. In spite of the federal government’s ambitious emission-reduction plans, the oil output increase is perfectly understandable, according to Canada’s natural resource minister.

“For the [oil] demand that continues to exist, Canada needs to extract value from its resources, just like the United States, the United Kingdom in the North Sea, and Norway,” Jonathan Wilkinson told the FT earlier this month…read more.