Commodity & FX Outlook – Commodity Supply Cutbacks in Focus, as Central Banks Dictate FX Moves
• Commodity supply is being cut back after 5 years of continuous negative price performance.
• Low oil prices are keeping inflation measures subdued globally.
• The outlook for interest rates and central bank stimulus will continue to be the dominant driver for G10 currency pairs
Commodity supply is being cut back after five years of continuous negative price performance. A number of commodities from copper, platinum, corn and even sugar are likely to be in a supply deficit this year. That will help eat into inventory that has built up over the years. Oil will remain in a supply surplus until at least the middle of next year, but the wheels are turning in the right direction, with upstream capital investment being cut back severely in the wake of the drop in oil price over the past year. We identify several shocks that could move commodity prices. Beyond the macroeconomic risks, that could see interest rate increases postponed (which would be gold price positive), weather risks could shock some commodities. We are currently in the most severe El Niño since 1997. Should history be a guide for the future, we could see corn, cocoa and sugar prices rise, while coffee, soy and US natural gas prices are likely to fall.
Low oil prices are keeping inflation measures subdued globally and this will encourage many central banks to continue their aggressive easing stance toward year end and into 2016. Indeed, it is only the US Federal Reserve that we expect to tighten policy this year. A result of the benign inflationary environment, central bank accommodation will continue to be a feature of the currency landscape for the foreseeable future. Policy rates will remain low or negative to support economies and this will predictably exert continued downward pressure on exchange rates. Currency wars will therefore remain a consequence of such stimulatory central bank policy, whether or not it is a stated direct policy objective or not.
The outlook for interest rates and central bank stimulus (alongside uncertainty over the Chinese economic growth path) will continue to be the dominant driver of G10 currency pairs. Volatility has been elevated as policy uncertainty roils markets and remains a key investor concern. Currency volatility has moderated recently and we anticipate more subdued volatility levels in Q4.
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