Commodity Market Decreased in May Amid Mixed Signals from the Global Economy

Jun 12, 2013, 09:15 ET from Credit Suisse AG

NEW YORK, June 12, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Commodities were lower in May as uncertainty surrounding the future of the global economic recovery remained high.

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Nelson Louie, Global Head of Commodities in Credit Suisse's Asset Management business, said, "Over the second half of the month financial markets became increasingly nervous over the possibility that the Federal Reserve will begin to taper its program of asset purchases in coming months.  This sent the ten-year yield sharply higher and started to increase risk aversion.  The heightened concerns were due to numerous mentions of scaling back the pace of quantitative easing by various members of the Federal Reserve Board.  Also, US economic data began to come in better than expected.  Markets are currently caught between good economic news being positive as it can indicate the recovery is gaining traction, or good economic news being negative in the short term as it may mean monetary policy will tighten.  However, the bias of most major central banks, especially in the US and Japan, seems to be toward being overly easy, rather than risk tightening too early."

Christopher Burton, Senior Portfolio Manager for the Credit Suisse Total Commodity Return Strategy, added, "As a result of these mixed signals, uncertainty surrounding the future of the global economic recovery remains high.  With global growth remaining below average in the first quarter, and recent data suggesting continued weakness this quarter, commodities continue to face headwinds.  However, some key indicators suggest stronger growth further out, which would ultimately support economically sensitive commodities.  With the market currently not expecting higher inflation and central banks not overly concerned by it either, commodities may benefit should growth materialize at higher levels than expected."   

The Dow Jones-UBS Commodity Index Total Return decreased 2.24% in May.  Overall, 15 out of 22 index constituents posted negative returns.  Precious Metals was the worst performing sector, down 6.09%, as the dollar strengthened and interest rates rose sharply.  Holdings in gold exchange-traded funds continued to fall, reaching their lowest levels in four years.  Energy declined 4.71%, led by Natural Gas.  Crude oil and petroleum products also decreased as a weak economic outlook continued to weigh on demand expectations, while the current supply and demand balance is not overly tight. The US Department of Energy conditionally approved a permit allowing a US company to export liquefied natural gas to countries without existing free trade agreements with the US, providing a potential boost for longer term demand.  Livestock was relatively unchanged, down 0.33%, as Lean Hogs increased while Live Cattle decreased.  Exports were reported weaker for the first quarter of 2013, partially due to import restrictions in China and Russia.  China's largest publicly-traded meat processor announced its bid for the largest pork producer in the US, Smithfield Foods.  This may boost US pork exports to China.  Agriculture was also relatively unchanged, up 0.04%.  Corn was supported by Chinese buying and strong demand from US ethanol manufacturers.  Coffee declined on the back of expectations of a record "off year" crop out of Brazil, which accounts for about one-third of the world's coffee supply and existing comfortable inventory levels.  Industrial Metals gained 1.61% as declining zinc and aluminum stocks in London Metals Exchange warehouses supported the sector, in addition to gains in copper.  The better than expected US employment report at the beginning of the month along with strong consumer confidence readings provided a boost to the economically sensitive sector at the beginning of the month.

About the Credit Suisse Total Commodity Return Strategy
Credit Suisse's Total Commodity Return Strategy has been managed for 18 years and seeks to outperform the return of a commodities index, such as the Dow Jones–UBS Commodity Index Total Return or the S&P GSCI Total Return Index, using both a quantitative and qualitative commodity research process. Commodity index total returns are achieved through:

  • Spot Return: price return on specified commodity futures contracts;
  • Roll Yield: impact due to migration of futures positions from near to far contracts; and
  • Collateral Yield: return earned on collateral for the futures.

As of May 31st, 2013 the team managed approximately USD 10.8 billion in assets globally. 

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Certain risks relating to investing in Commodities and Commodity-Linked Investments:
Exposure to commodity markets should only form a small part of a diversified portfolio. Investment in commodity markets may not be suitable for all investors. Commodity investments will be affected by changes in overall market movements, commodity volatility, exchange-rate movements, changes in interest rates, and factors affecting a particular industry or commodity, such as drought, floods, weather, livestock disease, embargoes, tariffs and international economic, political and regulatory developments. Commodity markets are highly volatile. The risk of loss in commodities and commodity-linked investments can be substantial. There is generally a high degree of leverage in commodity investing that can significantly magnify losses. Gains or losses from speculative derivative positions may be much greater than the derivative's original cost. An investment in commodities is not a complete investment program and should represent only a portion of an investor's portfolio management strategy.

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