Posted by BW Actual on Feb 26th 2024


Coming Up This Week

  • Belarus voted in parliamentary and local elections yesterday, but that's hardly news since an opposition boycott already determined the outcome in favor of candidates allied with Pres. Lukashenko.
  • WTO trade ministers meet this week in Abu Dhabi, and G20 finance ministers and central bankers are also meeting this week.
  • Israel votes in local elections tomorrow, and Iran will hold parliamentary elections Friday.

Commodity Prices

  • Aluminum: $2,198/ton
  • Antimony (ingot min. 99.65% fob China): $13,550/ton
  • Cobalt: $28,550/ton
  • Copper: $8,585/ton
  • Gold: $2,032/toz
  • Lead: $2,088/ton
  • Natural Gas (Nymex): $1.68/MMbtu - this is down 38% over the past month, and the cheapest (adjusted for inflation) since gas started trading on Nymex in 1990; drivers include an unusually warm winter and booming U.S. output
  • WTI Crude Oil (Nymex): $76.08/barrel
  • Zinc: $2,387/ton


  • Hamas and Israel are reportedly close to a hostage release / ceasefire deal again, and PM Netanyahu acknowledged that Israel could delay its ground offensive in Rafah - previously slated to start Mar. 10 - to allow time for negotiations to unfold.
  • The terms of the current deal seemingly call for Hamas to release around 40 hostages in exchange for a six-week ceasefire and the release of several hundred Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.


  • Pres. Zelensky said Ukraine lost 31,000 Ukrainian soldiers in the first two years of war.
  • Even though Zelensky's stated purpose in releasing that figure was to counter Russia's far higher tally (60,000), Zelensky's number is likely a drastic undercount and Russia's guess is probably closer to the true figure. U.S. officials think 70,000 Ukrainians have been killed in action to date.
  • To commemorate the second anniversary of the start of the war, the European Commission's president and the Prime Ministers of Italy, Canada, and Belgium traveled to Kyiv to pledge support for Ukraine "financially, economically, militarily, morally. Until the country is finally free."


  • As expected, the U.S. announced new sanctions over the death of Alexey Navalny and the war in Ukraine. Most of the 93 entities sanctioned on Friday are Russian, but 16 are Turkish, eight are Chinese, and four are Emirati. China criticized the sanctions on its companies.


  • Yemen's Houthi rebels targeted the U.S.-flagged M/V Torm Thor oil / chemical tanker in the Gulf of Aden with three kamikaze drones, but U.S. forces intercepted two of them and the third crashed safely into the water.


  • Following Qatari mediation, the Taliban released Herbert Fritz, an elderly far-right Austrian nationalist who was arrested last year on suspicious of spying while visiting to research an article he then published entitled "Vacations with the Taliban."
  • Fritz's article was intended to show that Afghanistan was safe enough that refugees can be deported back there, and he seemed to maintain that view despite his time in Taliban prison, telling reporters in Doha "I think [his prison ordeal] was bad luck but I want to visit again."

West Africa

  • ECOWAS said it would ease certain sanctions against Guinea and Mali, but it didn't mention the third junta-led country the bloc suspended after its coup: Burkina Faso.
  • All three juntas have announced plans to quit the bloc, but ECOWAS is softening its stance on two of them because it wants to reengage the juntas for talks.

Other News

  • After stalling and deflecting to his parliament for months, Hungary's PM Orban finally gave approval for Sweden to join NATO. In return, he'll receive four more Swedish-made Gripen fighter jets and a promise from Saab to build an AI research center in Hungary.