Tuesday, December 18, 2018
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2014 a good year for commodity bulls, so far

If you were betting on the price of most commodities going up this year, your bet has likely paid off.

Clashes over Crimea and drought in Brazil helped send prices of commodities from wheat to zinc higher in 2014 so far.

Out of roughly 27 active contract commodity markets tracked by analysts at Citi, close to two thirds increased in value during the first quarter to date, while fewer than 10 saw (mostly) marginal declines. As an asset class, commodities have done better than most other asset classes, after two years of underperformance, according to Citi.

(Read more: What a coffee bull market means for your latte)
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The flight to safe haven assets like gold, and rises in the price of energy assets following the crisis in Ukraine in late February/March, helped prices in the short term. Agricultural commodities like coffee and soy soared in price after drought in Brazil and other big food producers.

"Livestock and agriculture have been the engine rooms of performance this year," according to Deutsche Bank strategists.

However, prices of commodities like wheat and other grains may weaken in response to better weather on the U.S. plains, and the continued supply from Ukraine. Worries about disruption to supply if Ukraine's territorial dispute with Russia escalated had helped push prices higher.

(Read more: Where's the beef? Industry at crossroads)
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Commodities: Invest in nickel and stainless steel
Colin Hamilton, global head of commodities research at Macquarie Group, says Chinese data will continue to cause a lot of headwinds for basic commodities in the near term and advises how to invest.

A slowdown in Chinese growth has led to falls in the cost of industrial commodities like copper, zinc and lead.

In the medium term, commodities seem to have decoupled from their strong negative correlation with the U.S. dollar, and valuations seem to have returned to more typical cyclical trends, which should be useful for investors in the longer term.

"If these trends continue it should re-awaken investor interest in the asset class," according to Citi.

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Contributing Editors

  • adrian muller has conducted seminars for the chicago board of trade, including a key series in 1999 which cautioned about a top in the equity markets (see his article “top experts and statistics on the dow”). adrian muller has appeared on cable tv financial programs with analysis on the futures markets and equity market directional forecasts. he has been quoted in barron's, the wall street journal, and futures magazine.

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