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Commodities Gained on Improved Demand Expectations

Commodities generally gained on improved demand expectations across all sectors following constructive trade comments between the US and China.

The Bloomberg Commodity Index Total Return was higher for the month, with 20 of 23 constituents posting gains.

Credit Suisse Asset Management observed the following:

  • Energy increased 6.89%, led higher by Crude Oil and petroleum products, amid OPEC+'s announcement of new production quotas for 2020 in an attempt to rebalance oil markets.
  • Agriculture returned 5.75%. Soybean Oil rose as Indonesia and Malaysia plan to increase crude palm-oil (CPO) content in biodiesel in 2020 while Malaysian palm oil production declined more than expected, raising the demand for soybean oil as a cost-effective substitute.
  • Precious Metals gained 3.88% as the US Dollar declined following soft US economic readings in November, increasing the relative attractiveness of Gold and Silver.
  • Industrial Metals increased 3.06% led higher by Copper, as Chinese authorities reiterated their commitment to supporting domestic economic growth in 2020. This supported base metals demand estimates.
  • Livestock was up 1.55%. Lean Hogs rose after Chinese officials announced their plans to lower tariffs on US frozen pork imports amid improving trade relations between the US and China.

Nelson Louie, Global Head of Commodities for Credit Suisse Asset Management, said: "December brought about major trade developments as the US and China announced plans to sign a Phase One trade deal on January 15th, though details of the agreement have yet to be released. Given the length of the trade war, it may take time for US suppliers to reestablish supply chains to China. Lower trade barriers may improve global growth forecasts while also supporting commodity demand. Meanwhile, new international maritime regulations will require the shipping industry to burn more expensive, cleaner fuels or to install new equipment to reduce pollutant emissions from existing fuel grades. These changes have the potential to alter the supply/demand balance for various refined products. Escalating geopolitical tensions in the Middle East also has the potential to shock the energy complex. The rapid escalation of tensions between the US and Iran may put oil infrastructure of US allies in the region at risk, including key oil shipping channels as well as production and refining facilities in Iraq or elsewhere in the Middle East. "

Christopher Burton, Senior Portfolio Manager for the Credit Suisse Total Commodity Return Strategy, added: "In macro-economic related news, the Chinese economy showed signs of improvement during the month, highlighted by larger-then-expected, year-over-year increases in industrial production and retail sales for November. However, economic readings in the US were less supportive of an improved growth outlook as US jobless claims and key indicators of the US manufacturing sector underperformed expectations. Further progress on trade discussions between the two countries may lend support to improved growth forecasts. Central banks of developed countries seem in no rush to tighten amid mixed economic signals as well as rising geopolitical risk."

About the Credit Suisse Total Commodity Return Strategy

Credit Suisse's Total Commodity Return Strategy is managed by a team with over 35 years of combined 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 December 31, 2019, the Team managed approximately USD 6.4 billion in assets globally.