China fears fade but commodity investors remain defensive on Fed rate outlook


Despite more optimism surrounding US economic activity investors have maintained a relatively defensive stance, with gold receiving the largest inflows in the commodities sector

Defensive investors prompt third week of inflows into gold ETPs. G20 deliberations over the weekend addressed concerns about Chinese market volatility but any conclusions or detail was scarce. Alongside the potential for a Fed rate hike in 20-15, investors are retaining a cautious stance, with both gold and silver receiving solid inflows. Long gold ETPs have received nearly US$265mn over the past three weeks, and this is likely to continue, especially from European investors trying to seek a buffer against further Euro depreciation. Certainly the ECB appears prepared to do more on the stimulus front after last week’s policy meeting and gold continues to provide a good buffer against a loss of international purchasing power for Eurozone residents, with gold in Euros rising nearly 3% so far this year. Silver saw the largest inflows in 22 weeks, totaling US$7.8mn after rising 3.1%.

Nine week inflow streak breaks on profit taking in oil ETPs. Back-to-back weekly gains in crude oil prices has seen investors reduce exposure to the energy sector. The gains appear to be somewhat premature, with US stockpiles posting the largest gains since April last week. Indeed, stockpiles, while in the midst of a seasonal downtrend, are 20% above the 5-year average, indicating the market remains oversupplied. Outflows totaled US$45.9mn last week and were dominated by US WTI exposed ETPs. Meanwhile, reinforcing the view that potential weakness lies ahead, ETFS Daily Short WTI Crude Oil (SOIL) received the largest inflows in 15 weeks, totaling US$6.9mn.

ETFS Short Copper (SCOP) sees largest outflows in 17 weeks as sentiment rebounds. SCOP experienced US$5.8mn of outflows, and alongside US$3.3mn inflows into long copper ETPs, indicates a sharp shift in the negative sentiment that has previously been affecting the industrial metals sector. ETFS Aluminium (ALUM) received the largest inflows in four weeks as global stockpiles reached 6-year lows.

Wheat drives first inflows into agricultural sector in four weeks. Investors appear to be ignoring the plentiful global supplies that are having a depressing impact on wheat prices in recent weeks, with inflows into long wheat ETPs the largest in three weeks. Five of the past six weeks have seen positive inflows into long wheat ETPs, totaling over US$20mn over that period. Sugar was again the best performer among agricultural commodities as wetter weather in Brazil and fears of the El Nino impacting production in India lent support to price. Investors thus far have not capitalized on the gains seen in sugar over the past month, with outflows totaling US$6.5mn.

Key events to watch this week. Central bank policy will remain key focus this week, as investors weigh the growth and inflation outlook of major economies against a backdrop of lingering uncertainty surrounding China. Ahead of the Fed next week, the Bank of England and Reserve Bank of New Zealand rate meetings will be scrutinised for any hints of the extent of feedback from global volatility on domestic economies.

Martin Arnold – Global FX & Commodity Strategist – ETF Securities