Commodity Monthly Monitor – Metals to perform on weaker USD and rising rates Your reference guide to commodity markets. Includes the latest outlook for each commodity sector and major developments for individual commodities.
Sentiment toward industrial metals took a leap forward.
The price of the gold driven higher on the lack of follow-up from the Fed.
Oil major producers meeting postponed but not cancelled.
Majority of agricultural commodities post strong gains.
The recent decision to keep rates on hold by the US Federal Reserve (Fed) has saved the market from shock as the Fed Fund Futures market indicated only a very small chance of the central bank making a move. The Fed’s so-called “dot-plots” now indicate that the policy makers only expect to raise rates twice this year (down from four) and the market has shifted it expectations out to September for the next move. Recent economic data, particularly strong wage growth (accounting for the February calendar quirk) and payroll data justify more hikes and sooner. The US dollar is unlikely to respond with strength when rate hikes occur as the US dollar is perceived to be the most over-crowded trade according to recent fund manager surveys. Anticipation of the rate hike has been pushing up the USD for many years. Furthermore, in rate rising environments, contrary to popular belief, the USD dollar typically sells-off. This we believe is due to investors attempting to gauge if the first rate hike was correctly timed, as it takes a while for the economic data to roll-in to make a judgement and therefore markets tend to be in a state of limbo/fear. In this environment of a weaker USD and rising interest rates, improving economic fundamentals are likely to be beneficial for many cyclically exposed commodities. Industrial metals, which are likely to be in a supply deficit this year, trade well below marginal cost. This subsector looks to be forming a technical floor whilst demand in China has remained surprisingly resilient in recent months.
Sentiment toward industrial metals took a leap forward, with speculative positioning and prices rising across the complex. Investors appear to be paying heed to firmer fundamentals, with supply deficits expected for zinc, copper and nickel this year. US dollar depreciation and a loose policy setting should help the industrial metals rally continue.
The price of the gold driven higher on the lack of follow-up from the Fed after it embarked on a rate tightening cycle in December 2015. Investors fear that the US central bank is committing a policy error after it downgraded the number of times it expects to raise rates this year. Core inflation remains robust and real interest rates remain low, a recipe for strong gold prices. A loose policy setting helps the more industrial precious metals like platinum and palladium as auto sales will be supported.
Oil major producers meeting postponed but not cancelled. A 40% rally in oil prices indicates that expectations ahead of the original meeting were very positive. Despite the meeting being postponed to mid-April and Iran refusing to participate until its production is back to pre-sanction levels, crude oil production and rig count in the US remain at their lowest since end of 2014, lending support to oil prices.
Majority of agricultural commodities post strong gains with the exception of cotton. Reduced supply from Brazil and India supported sugar prices higher. Weak cotton imports into China dented the demand outlook for cotton sending prices lower.
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