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Commodities Gained on Lower Crude Oil Production and Heightened Demand for Industrial Metals

Commodities rose due to reductions in global crude oil production and rising base metal demand expectations

The Bloomberg Commodity Index Total Return increased for the month, with 10 out of 23 constituents posting gains.

Credit Suisse Asset Management observed the following:

  • Energy increased 5.44%. Faster-than-expected production cuts by some OPEC members and their allies paired with involuntary cuts from Iran and Venezuela helped to tighten the global supply demand imbalance.
  • Industrial Metals gained 3.51%, led higher by Copper, as orders to remove the metal from LME warehouses rose to the highest level in several months, indicating increased demand. Base metals were generally supported as the US administration extended the March 1st deadline for an increased tariff rate on Chinese imports, signaling warming US-China trade relations.
  • Livestock was 0.02% lower, led down by Lean Hogs, after a February-released USDA report revealed a decline in US pork exports in November 2018 compared to the same period a year ago, indicating slowing demand.
  • Precious Metals declined 1.14%. Stronger-than-expected US jobs data for January supported US Dollar strength, weakening the appeal of Silver and Gold as alternative stores of wealth.
  • Agriculture decreased 3.90%, led lower by Kansas City Wheat and Chicago Wheat, as mild weather conditions in the Black Sea region boosted expected yields for the area and increased international competition for US wheat.

Nelson Louie, Global Head of Commodities for Credit Suisse Asset Management, said: "Crude oil and petroleum products will likely continue to be driven by OPEC and its allies, who are looking to support and stabilize prices at higher levels in order to meet their budgeting needs. Thus far, it is expected that at OPEC's next meeting scheduled for April, the members will vote to continue with the cuts already in place, despite reduced production due to US sanctions on Venezuela's state-owned petroleum company and on Iran. Meanwhile, US exploration and production companies continue to produce more crude oil, offsetting some of the non-US output cuts. However, there are already signs of restraint on behalf of US companies, who are increasingly focused on profitability rather than production growth. In addition, there remains the risk of further additional unplanned outages, especially in politically sensitive areas such as Libya and Nigeria."

Christopher Burton, Senior Portfolio Manager for the Credit Suisse Total Commodity Return Strategy, added: "Global growth expectations improved after China and the US were perceived to be on the path to finding a resolution to their trade dispute. In China, the Caixin Manufacturing PMI remained in contraction after its February reading remained below 50, evidence that its economy has slowed, potentially due to the trade dispute. A near-term resolution would likely be supportive of commodities demand. Meanwhile, the US Federal Reserve (Fed) signaled that it had shifted to a looser monetary policy stance, including a potential shift away from its current 2% inflation target towards a 2% average inflation target over a business cycle. This could have dramatic implications for current and future monetary policy. Near-term inflation may have to increase and be sustained at a level above 2% for longer since inflation has been undershooting this target for the past several years. This may suggest that the Fed may allow for growth and inflation to increase uninterrupted for longer in order to achieve its objective. In such an environment, demand could potentially increase for many raw materials."

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 February 28, 2019, the Team managed approximately USD 8.0 billion in assets globally.