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Commodity Market Decreased in September Amid Mixed Fundamentals

Commodities were lower in September as decreased geopolitical risk and commodity-specific fundamentals weighed on the market.

Nelson Louie, Global Head of Commodities in Credit Suisse’s Asset Management business, said, “As of month end, headlines were focused on the US government shutdown which began on October 1st. There is also heightened concern over a potential failure to raise the debt ceiling on time, as well as unease surrounding the ability of policymakers to reach a lasting solution when these issues arise again towards the end of the year. Uncertainty on the fiscal front may have been one obstacle standing in the way of the Federal Reserve tapering its quantitative easing program at the September FOMC meeting. It is possible that fiscal risks that are not fully resolved may lessen the chances that the Federal Reserve tapers at either the October or the December FOMC meeting.”

Christopher Burton, Senior Portfolio Manager for the Credit Suisse Total Commodity Return Strategy, added, “Markets choppy during the summer amid speculation that the Federal Reserve would begin the process of slowly tightening its monetary policies. Removal of this risk in the near term may be accommodative of risk appetite and further aid the economic recovery. It may also increase already heightened risks of inflation eventually overshooting expectations. Commodities have been increasingly driven by commodity specific factors, helping to lead to reduced correlations. We continue to expect commodities to provide valuable diversification benefits amid heightened periods of uncertainty.“

The Dow Jones-UBS Commodity Index Total Return decreased 2.55% in September. Overall, 12 out of 22 index constituents posted negative returns. Precious Metals ended the month 5.63% lower as geopolitical tensions in the Middle East eased, decreasing the appeal of precious metals as a safe haven, and on continued uncertainty surrounding the future of the US Federal Reserve’s monetary stimulus program. Energy declined 4.31%, with all sector components lower. Natural Gas decreased as mild weather resulted in weaker-than-expected shoulder season demand. Meanwhile, fading worries over tensions in Syria and Iran helped ease risks to crude oil supply from the Middle East. Libya's crude oil production recovered to nearly 40% of its pre-war capacity with exports set to rise as major western fields ramped up output after protesters agreed to reopen them. Agriculture decreased 1.94%. Corn, Soybeans and soybean products declined amid favorable crop weather as the growing season transitioned to harvest. Livestock was the best performing sector, up 1.70%, led by Lean Hogs. Pork supplies remained tight due to reduced hog slaughter relative to last year in the face of increased demand. The largest contributor to demand growth has come from pork bellies, used to make bacon. The USDA also reported increased beef and pork exports for July. Industrial Metals increased 1.57%. The Federal Reserve’s surprise decision to leave its bond buying program intact supported base metals. This supported risk appetite and emerging market growth expectations. Chinese industrial profits were reported to be up sharply for August compared to the prior month and year, which boosted demand expectations.

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 September 30th, 2013 the team managed approximately USD 11.1 billion in assets globally.