Commodity Monthly Monitor – Commodity investors look optimistically beyond Brexit
Your reference guide to commodity markets. Includes the latest outlook for each commodity sector and major developments for individual commodities.
June/ July 2016
Although the uncertainty surrounding the EU referendum is dominating sentiment and weighing on cyclical commodity prices, markets are predicting that elevated volatility levels will fade. Under more normal market conditions, investors will return their focus to the strength of fundamental commodity drivers. Currently, investors are generally positive on the outlook for cyclical commodities, with futures market positioning showing the most optimism since 2011. Nonetheless, central bank policy remains the main question mark for investors. The lack of clarity over the path for US interest rates is favouring defensive commodity allocations for portfolio hedges. Low/negative real interest rates are likely to continue their trend lower in the near-term, with some signs of emerging inflationary pressure. The global recovery is expected to continue, fuelled primarily by US and Chinese growth. Rising activity in the world’s two largest economies should keep energy and industrial metals sectors supported, as demand begins to bite into the abundant supply of recent years.
Agricultural commodities have continued to benefit from a global supply shortage from the US’s main competitors. Uncertainty on the potential impact of La Niña on this year’s crop yield is adding upward pressure on prices for the time being. The US NOAA estimates a 75% chance for La Niña to develop by this winter.
Oil rose to US$50/bbl as outages crimped on supply. However, oil prices face temporary resistance as drilled but uncompleted wells (oil fracklog) in the US threatens to add new supply. Given high depletion rates, we expect this source of price weakness to be temporary.
With the exception of copper and lead, industrial metals posted gains over the past month as a weaker US Dollar helped offset subdued Chinese economic data. The extreme pessimism towards copper evident from the sharp deterioration in net short speculative positioning seems overdone and fundamentals remain supportive of prices.
Gold buoyed by policy mistakes. The potential for inflation to overshoot in the US and the reticence of the Federal Reserve to continue to tighten monetary policy is providing a supportive environment for gold. Further policy mistakes will only enhance the popularity of gold in a negative real rate environment.
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