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Could commodities make a material difference to your returns this year?


After all the exuberance of last year, global economic momentum seems to have stabilised – albeit at a higher level – rather than accelerating any further. There is little evidence of imminent recession in those economies where the cycle is more advanced, like the US, while many other countries or regions are still in the early, or mid-, expansion phases. As a result, business investment should continue for a while yet. The cost of capital remains low and financing readily accessible. According to WTO estimates, the recovery in global trade should endure (+3.2% in 2018).


A monetary conundrum

Despite all of this support, inflation is stubbornly falling short of many OECD central banks’ targets. Most are therefore in a monetary muddle on their path to normalisation. We expect progress towards policy normalisation to remain gradual at best, so liquidity should be ample.

That being said, inflation prints have surprised to the upside in recent months, even if commodity prices haven’t. Over the longer term, it’s hard to establish any clear link between the two and to define which is pulling the other up at different stages of the cycle. Over the shorter term however we believe the current economic environment may provide more support for the asset class. Commodities tend to provide better returns the more production is growing. We believe the need for raw materials will endure – with strong demand from Europe and other regions likely to offset weaker demand from China as its growth slows. Another pick up, however limited, in the economic cycle encourages sticking with cyclical assets for now.


Take me to the hedge 

Given inflation prints may surprise more to the upside; commodities could be used as a hedge against inflation and a useful portfolio diversifier. Many investors seem to be sharing that view – commodity ETFs have recorded their strongest start to a year ever by gathering €1bn of inflows in January and February. Broad commodity indices gathered most of these flows as opposed to the safe haven positioning via precious metals we saw back in July last year. For now, the trend appears to be a triumph of hope over expectation - broad commodities indices have barely moved since the start of the year (CRB Commodity Index +0.4% as at 6 March 2018). However, a shift in inflation trends (for which read more upside in the supportive economic environment), could push commodities prices higher.   

Blog chart


Time to dig deeper

And what of the elements that combine to make up a broad index like the CRB? Just how might energy, precious and base metals, and agriculture fare in the coming months?

  • Energy

We expect oil prices to remain at around $60-65 per barrel over the year. Demand should stay strong driven by the emerging markets, provided global growth rates don’t disappoint. Meanwhile, output should be constrained by OPEC members’ new found discipline in the face of a surging US shale challenge and the collapse of Venezuelan production. A balance between supply and demand should mean prices stay range-bound.

  • Base metals

The base metals picture is more nuanced, and there could be some limited further upside for copper. Demand from China may well decline, but this should be offset by the needs of other regions, most notably Europe. Supply could still be constrained by various issues, including major mining labour negotiations and Chinese scrap import restrictions. The net result favours copper, as do its inflation hedging abilities. Should the cycle peak more meaningfully, the picture may change.

  • Precious metals

Gold is caught in a tug of war between positive factors associated with growth and more negative factors associated with that growth peaking, geopolitical risk and slowdown in China. Physical supply is unimpressive, but not a key driver of prices currently. We believe the yellow metal is trading close to fair value, but still see it as an attractive hedge, especially against inflation and trade war risks.

  • Agriculture

The picture for agricultural commodities is rather mixed. Record inventories carried over from previous year should mitigate the impact dry weather has on grain prices. The same applies for livestock. Balanced demand and supply dynamics should keep prices range-bound. Ultimately, demand holds the key for any meaningful price recovery. Any further improvement in the macroeconomic environment and an associated recovery in wage growth would likely see per capita consumption increase in 2018. 

Find our more about our commodity offering:

Lyxor Core Commodities CRB 

Why choose Lyxor ETF for commodities?

As befits true pioneers, we’ve been running truely broad commodity ETFs longer than any other European provider and tread a singular path by giving you access to the gold standard-setting ThomsonReuters/CRB indices. 

All data: Lyxor International Asset Management, 9 March 2018 unless otherwise stated. Past performance is no guide to future returns.  


Risk Warning

THIS COMMUNICATION IS FOR ELIGIBLE COUNTERPARTIES OR PROFESSIONAL CLIENTS ONLY

Fund and charge data: Lyxor ETF, correct as at  05 March 2018.

This document is for the exclusive use of investors acting on their own account and categorized either as “Eligible Counterparties” or “Professional Clients” within the meaning of Markets in Financial Instruments Directive 2004/39/EC. These products comply with the UCITS Directive (2009/65/EC). Société Générale and Lyxor International Asset Management (LIAM) recommend that investors read carefully the “investment risks” section of the product’s documentation (prospectus and KIID). The prospectus and KIID are available free of charge on www.lyxoretf.com, and upon request to client-services-etf@lyxor.com.

The products mentioned are the object of market-making contracts, the purpose of which is to ensure the liquidity of the products on the London Stock Exchange, assuming normal market conditions and normally functioning computer systems. Units of a specific UCITS ETF managed by an asset manager and purchased on the secondary market cannot usually be sold directly back to the asset manager itself. Investors must buy and sell units on a secondary market with the assistance of an intermediary (e.g. a stockbroker) and may incur fees for doing so. In addition, investors may pay more than the current net asset value when buying units and may receive less than the current net asset value when selling them. Updated composition of the product’s investment portfolio is available on www.lyxoretf.com. In addition, the indicative net asset value is published on the Reuters and Bloomberg pages of the product, and might also be mentioned on the websites of the stock exchanges where the product is listed.

Prior to investing in the product, investors should seek independent financial, tax, accounting and legal advice. It is each investor’s responsibility to ascertain that it is authorised to subscribe, or invest into this product. This document is of a commercial nature and not of a regulatory nature. This material is of a commercial nature and not a regulatory nature. This document does not constitute an offer, or an invitation to make an offer, from Société Générale, Lyxor Asset Management (together with its affiliates, Lyxor AM) or any of their respective subsidiaries to purchase or sell the product referred to herein.

Lyxor International Asset Management (LIAM), société par actions simplifiée having its registered office at Tours Société Générale, 17 cours Valmy, 92800 Puteaux (France), 418 862 215 RCS Nanterre, is authorized and regulated by the Autorité des Marchés Financiers (AMF) under the UCITS Directive (2009/65/EU) and the AIFM Directive (2011/31/EU). LIAM is represented in the UK by Lyxor Asset Management UK LLP, which is authorized and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK under Registration Number 435658. Société Générale is a French credit institution (bank) authorised by the Autorité de contrôle prudentiel et de résolution (the French Prudential Control Authority).

Research disclaimer

Lyxor International Asset Management (“LIAM”) or its employees may have or maintain business relationships with companies covered in its research reports. As a result, investors should be aware that LIAM and its employees may have a conflict of interest that could affect the objectivity of this report. Investors should consider this report as only a single factor in making their investment decision. Please see appendix at the end of this report for the analyst(s) certification(s), important disclosures and disclaimers. Alternatively, visit our global research disclosure website www.lyxoretf.com/compliance.

Conflicts of interest 

This research contains the views, opinions and recommendations of Lyxor International Asset Management (“LIAM”) Cross Asset and ETF research analysts and/or strategists. To the extent that this research contains trade ideas based on macro views of economic market conditions or relative value, it may differ from the fundamental Cross Asset and ETF Research opinions and recommendations contained in Cross Asset and ETF Research sector or company research reports and from the views and opinions of other departments of LIAM and its affiliates. Lyxor Cross Asset and ETF research analysts and/or strategists routinely consult with LIAM sales and portfolio management personnel regarding market information including, but not limited to, pricing, spread levels and trading activity of ETFs tracking equity, fixed income and commodity indices. Trading desks may trade, or have traded, as principal on the basis of the research analyst(s) views and reports. Lyxor has mandatory research policies and procedures that are reasonably designed to (i) ensure that purported facts in research reports are based on reliable information and (ii) to prevent improper selective or tiered dissemination of research reports. In addition, research analysts receive compensation based, in part, on the quality and accuracy of their analysis, client feedback, competitive factors and LIAM’s total revenues including revenues from management fees and investment advisory fees and distribution fees.

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