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from Breakingviews:

Blythe Masters could chair Glencore

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By Christopher Hughes
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Blythe Masters’ exit from JPMorgan with the sale of its physical commodities business could solve Glencore’s longstanding search for a chairman. The brains behind the credit default swap has the expertise to join the trading house’s board, whose all-male roll makes it an anachronism in the FTSE-100. But there is one big obstacle to her leading this or any board – she has never run a company before.

Time is short. Glencore has committed to filling the chairman vacancy before its annual meeting on May 20. The group is at the stage of discussing three candidates with shareholders. It is not surprising the search has dragged on - there are few people who carry all the skills for the job. The key personal attribute is the ability to act as both a support and a balance to Chief Executive Ivan Glasenberg, who has more influence than most bosses since he owns an 8.3 percent stake. The candidate also needs to have the backing of British institutional shareholders. That argues for someone whose curriculum vitae is heavy with UK company experience. Knowledge of commodities is also essential if the chair is to participate fully in strategic and technical discussions.

Masters ticks some but not all the boxes. Her main handicap is that she has not been a chief executive herself, even though she has had many senior leadership positions at JPMorgan. That would make her appointment to the role especially brave. True, the Glencore board already has some former CEOs on it – including ex-Morgan Stanley chief John Mack. But it might be hard for Masters to run the board authoritatively without comparable experience herself. Mack’s presence also dilutes the value of Masters’ financial perspective.

from Breakingviews:

Noble China joint venture still faces market test

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By Una Galani

The author is a Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.

Noble Group’s joint venture with China still faces a test from market forces. The Singapore trader is selling 51 percent of its agricultural business to a consortium led by state-backed COFCO for around $1.5 billion. China’s desire to control its food supply should guarantee volumes for the joint venture. But it’s less clear that will translate into healthy margins.

The precise size of the COFCO’s investment depends on how the unit, which processes everything from grains to coffee, performs over the next nine months. The final price will be equivalent of 1.15 times its book value in 2014. The headline price implies a valuation of $2.94 billion for the business, which accounted for 16 percent of Noble’s revenue last year.

from Breakingviews:

JPMorgan commodities sale shows trading’s opacity

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By Kevin Allison and Antony Currie

The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

JPMorgan’s $3.5 billion sale of its physical commodities business is a perfect example of just how opaque trading is. The bank is selling what is probably a low-return business with regulatory headaches to Mercuria, a privately held firm that does not have to make its financials public. The dearth of details does make it hard to judge, but applying some statistics from both the industry and some rivals suggests Mercuria may be paying top whack.

from Breakingviews:

Market adjustment is not over yet

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By Ian Campbell

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

The golden fear gauge is rising. Gold is up to a six-month high of $1,383 an ounce. A more serious equity and commodity meltdown threatens as markets grow more uneasy about Ukraine, China, emerging economies and global growth. Gold may go a bit higher still - but its rally too may soon prove vulnerable.

from Counterparties:

MORNING BID – Losses continue, and other concerns

The ructions in China have had an interesting effect on commodities prices – good for gold, crappy for copper. And more developments in this area should be expected as the market deals with growing weakness and the threat of a deflating credit bubble coming from the massive lending to various sectors in the world's second-largest economy. Copper has been rather weak of late, but the broader CRB commodities index is actually much higher on the year. This is the biggest divergence since the eurozone debt crisis in 2011, points out Ashraf Laidi, the chief global strategist at City Index in London.

Again, the recent selling has had to do with the Chinese companies using the metal (and iron ore, too) as collateral for cheap dollar financing. So we've hit a weird storm here – weak yuan that makes those loans more expensive, and copper falling too, and again, that also messes with those loans. Put that together and you have a few markets moving in directions that are not beneficial to a major counterparty in several of them, for one, and resulting in the kind of activity that tends to turn into a vicious cycle.

from Counterparties:

MORNING BID – Copper, China and currencies

Markets start on the back foot this morning, with weakness overseas - and particularly in emerging markets - feeding through to a bit of strain on U.S. futures and a bit of flight to quality to the U.S. bond market.

The outlook for China once again comes into play, with the most recent fears being more corporate defaults in the world's second-largest economy and the way in which copper imports are used in China as collateral to raise funds. So it's all nicely intertwined here and has had a detrimental effect on both China's stocks, stocks in various exchanges around the world, and of course the price of copper, which was down 5 percent in Shanghai.

from Global Markets Forum Dashboard:

Better year for commodities?

We quizzed Gavin Wendt, Founding Director & Senior Resource Analyst at MineLife, on the impact of Fed-taper on commodities, base metals, precious metals, nat-gas, Indonesia's ban on mineral exports and China.

Gavin is positive on soft commodities as hard commodities in the medium to longer-term. "The world's population is 7 billion and growing - and demand for energy, hard and soft commodities will only grow," he said.

from Global Markets Forum Dashboard:

Better year for commodities?

We quizzed Gavin Wendt, Founding Director & Senior Resource Analyst at MineLife, on the impact of Fed-taper on commodities, base metals, precious metals, nat-gas, Indonesia's ban on mineral exports and China.

Gavin is positive on soft commodities as hard commodities in the medium to longer-term. "The world's population is 7 billion and growing - and demand for energy, hard and soft commodities will only grow," he said.

from Global Markets Forum Dashboard:

Better year for commodities?

We quizzed Gavin Wendt, Founding Director & Senior Resource Analyst at MineLife, on the impact of Fed-taper on commodities, base metals, precious metals, nat-gas, Indonesia's ban on mineral exports and China.

Gavin is positive on soft commodities as hard commodities in the medium to longer-term. "The world's population is 7 billion and growing - and demand for energy, hard and soft commodities will only grow," he said.

from Global Markets Forum Dashboard:

Better year for commodities?

We quizzed Gavin Wendt, Founding Director & Senior Resource Analyst at MineLife, on the impact of Fed-taper on commodities, base metals, precious metals, nat-gas, Indonesia's ban on mineral exports and China.

Gavin is positive on soft commodities as hard commodities in the medium to longer-term. "The world's population is 7 billion and growing - and demand for energy, hard and soft commodities will only grow," he said.

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