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Commodities Decreased as Fundamentals Continue to Weaken

Commodities eased in May on weakening fundamentals across most sectors, according to Credit Suisse Asset Management.

The Bloomberg Commodity Index Total Return performance was negative for the month, with 14 out of 22 Index constituents posting losses.

Credit Suisse Asset Management observed the following:

  • Energy decreased 3.28%, led lower by Natural Gas, as milder-than-normal weather forecasts for the first half of June reduced early summer cooling demand expectations.
  • Agriculture declined 2.17%. Sugar, Soybeans and its byproducts along with Coffee faced headwinds as producers were incentivized to sell down their stockpiles amidst a sharply weaker Brazilian Real. 
  • Industrial Metals eased 1.04%, led lower by Nickel, which declined after Indonesia began to ease its export restrictions.
  • Precious Metals increased 0.50% after multiple terrorist attacks and continued geopolitical tensions with North Korea increased the appeal of both Gold and Silver as safe haven assets.
  • Livestock gained 7.42%. Lean Hogs increased after the USDA reported lower pork production and a reduction of frozen pork in storage for April.

Nelson Louie, Global Head of Commodities for Credit Suisse Asset Management, said: "US exploration and production companies continued to grow crude oil exports. As the global supply and demand balance of crude oil continues to tighten, partially due to the extension of the OPEC-led production agreement, the US should be increasingly called upon as the marginal supplier to the world. In the mining sector, labor disputes continued in Chile and Indonesia, slowing down the production of copper, while changes in government personnel may help loosen nickel mining restrictions in the Philippines. In Livestock, beef and pork exports also continued to run well above average in May, and the opening up of China to beef exports could help escalate this trend. Stronger demand and food quality concerns may be underpinning this shift in stance."

Christopher Burton, Senior Portfolio Manager for the Credit Suisse Total Commodity Return Strategy, added: "Macroeconomic factors were mixed around the world, with continued improvements in Europe, heightened concerns surrounding China's economy, and increasing signs of a relatively strong and stable United States economy despite continued political uncertainty. Emmanuel Macron won the French presidential election early in May, decreasing the European political risk premium and boosting the Euro. This rise in confidence helped add to already strengthening European manufacturing data. Within the US, the unemployment rate reached a low of 4.3%, a level not seen since pre-financial crisis, implying wage pressures may be increasing, which could be supportive of inflation. The US Federal Reserve signaled it will likely raise rates in June, with the market's implied probability of an early summer hike rising throughout the month. However, monetary policy remains accommodative for most of the developed world as central banks remain cautious of unhinging any progress in economic recoveries."

About the Credit Suisse Total Commodity Return Strategy
Credit Suisse's Total Commodity Return Strategy is managed by a team with over 30 years of experience, and seeks to outperform the return of a commodities index, such as the Bloomberg 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 31, 2017, the Team managed approximately USD 8.6 billion in assets globally.