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Commodities Decreased in March due to Supply Expectations

Commodities decreased in March, driven by shifting supply expectations, according to Credit Suisse Asset Management.

The Bloomberg Commodity Index Total Return performance was negative for the month, with 18 out of 22 Index constituents posting losses.

Credit Suisse Asset Management observed the following:

  • Agriculture decreased 5.83%, led lower by Sugar amid improved supply expectations for Brazil's key Center-South region due to favorable weather conditions at the start of the harvest season.
  • Industrial Metals eased 2.05%, driven by Nickel, as changes in inventory levels reflected less tightening than expected given supply disruptions out of the Philippines and Indonesia.
  • Energy declined 1.45%. Crude Oil and petroleum products fell as US oil production continued to increase alongside inventory levels that are well above the historical average for this time of the year. 
  • Precious Metals decreased 0.62%, with both Gold and Silver posting losses, after expectations rose that the US Federal Reserve (Fed) will follow through with its guidance of raising rates two more times in 2017 after the latest rate hike in early March.
  • Livestock increased 0.21%, driven higher by Live Cattle, which rose after the US Department of Agriculture revised its expectations for 2017 beef exports higher in its latest World Agriculture Supply and Demand Estimate report.

Nelson Louie, Global Head of Commodities for Credit Suisse Asset Management, said: "The upcoming European elections, the US administration's attempts to implement its policy objectives and the ongoing global petroleum rebalancing remain at the forefront of the minds of commodity market participants and investors. For crude oil, a high compliance rate in the OPEC-coordinated production agreement has helped to rebalance crude supply abroad. However, this has allowed US shale producers to increase production at lower costs than historically. Demand for petroleum products has helped bring US inventories down to relatively normal levels ahead of the driving season. Overall, the recent decline in crude prices may increase the odds that OPEC elects to continue its output cuts in the second half of the year."

Christopher Burton, Senior Portfolio Manager for the Credit Suisse Total Commodity Return Strategy, added: "The US central bank met expectations of an additional interest rate hike, setting the tone for the long awaited gradual normalization of interest rates. Loose monetary policy and rising oil prices have helped inflation surpass the Fed's target of 2% in February. Inflation within the US may increase further if economic activity increases more than expected as monetary policy continues to normalize. As such, investors may benefit from including commodities within their portfolios as a hedge against periods of higher than expected inflation."