Commodities react favorably in first week to Trump victory

November 11, 2016

 In the days following Donald Trump’s election as the 45th President of the United States, much of the mining sector reacted with optimism and hope that he would usher in better times for the industry.

During the campaign, Trump promised to bring coal jobs back to the United States by ending the so called “war on coal” and dismantling many of the environmental policies that were put in place by President Obama including the “Clean Power Plan.” Trump also promised to “cancel” the United States’ involvement in the Paris accord, a climate agreement that was negotiated by 195 countries to lower greenhouse gas emission and slow the advances of climate change.

These promises were welcomed by many political coal supporters, including Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin and Sen. Majority leader Mitch McConnell, the Courier-Journal reported.

“The war on coal is not a result of any legislation we passed here (in the legislature),” McConnell said. “One of the things I hope this (new) president will do is look at unilateral actions and regulatory overreach ... (and) see how much he can undo. Coal is a good example of that.”

Kentucky remains the nation’s third leading coal producing state, even though the coal industry in Kentucky has been sharply diminished. The state's coal production declined from 110 Mt (121 million st) in 2008 to 55 Mt (61 million st) last year, while employment fell from 17,670 jobs to 9,493. Coal dominated electricity generation in both Kentucky and Indiana, which is also a coal mining state.

But in the election's aftermath, it was also unclear just how many of those thousands of lost coal mining jobs will ever return, especially in eastern Kentucky, which has been hit harder than western Kentucky. Coal will still have to compete with cheaper, cleaner natural gas, and Trump has also said he wants more natural gas developed.

In addition to coal mining and metals company stocks surged after the election, as investors looked to the president-elect’s promises to revive U.S. manufacturing and rehabilitate the country’s aging infrastructure, The Wall Street Journal reported.

On Nov. 11, three days after the election copper copper prices on the London Metals Exchange traded past $6,000 per ton, the highest since early July 2015, after gaining 4.5 percent in overnight trading in Shanghai. Copper's 17 percent price gain will mark the steepest week rally since 1980.

Metals prices bumped higher as traders predicted the President-Elect will boost infrastructure spending with massive tax cuts and new borrowing in order to jump-start U.S. growth and create new jobs in the so-called swing states in which he was elected.

Globally, Swiss commodities giant Glencore PLC was up 3 percent while the world’s second largest miner by market value, Rio Tinto PLC gained 2.5 percent. ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steelmaker, was up 3.9 percent.


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