Last week commodities diverged, largely trading on their individual fundamentals. Palladium was the best performer, gaining 8% as investors fear a consumer backlash against diesel autocatalysts following the..
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scandal at Volkswagen (which could favour palladium-heavy gasoline autocatalysts). Industrial metals were hurt again last week as the Caixin China PMI manufacturing data came out weaker than expected, although this week’s official PMI reading will offer more clarity on the strength of manufacturing demand. Late last week, the Federal Reserve Chair reiterated that a rate rise is still on the cards for 2015, which could pose a threat for commodity prices as the US dollar strengthens.
Short-lived gold rally boosted demand for gold ETPs. US$16.6mn of net inflows was invested into gold ETPs last week as gold gained 3.3%, closing at S$1,154.50/oz on Thursday. However, Federal Reserve chairman Janet Yellen cut the rally short when she confirmed late Thursday that interest rates could still rise by the end of the year. US dollar strengthened on this announcement and gold price pared its gains to US$1,146.20/oz. by the end of the week. The price of gold is likely to remain very volatile in the run-up to the next Fed meeting scheduled at the end of October.
Increasing interest in Energy ETPs. Energy ETPs recorded net inflows of US$7mn, mostly into ETFS Energy (AIGE) and natural gas ETPs. At this time of the year, the natural gas futures curve typically switches from backwardation into contango as the restocking season between April and October comes to a close and US demand for heating increases, supporting demand for gas ahead of the winter season. The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) forecasts natural gas price at an average of US$2.84/MMBtu for 2015. Year-to-date average price currently stands at US$2.77/MMBtu, suggesting that investors are likely to benefit from a long position into the commodity. Meanwhile, oil ETPs recorded net outflows last week, mainly from WTI ETPs, on the back of profit taking. A 17.4% rebound in WTI oil since its August low, has driven three consecutive weeks of outflows from WTI ETPs.
Inflows into short copper persist. Last week saw net inflows of US$4.5mn into ETFS Short Copper (SCOP) marking the second consecutive week of inflows into the product as ETP investors as investors have become bearish on the metal following weaker-than-expected flash manufacturing PMI data in China. Net positions into copper contracts listed on the LME and COMEX however indicate a reversal of market sentiment. China official manufacturing PMI scheduled for later this week will provide further clarification.
Platinum sell-off deepens. Platinum ETPs recoded net outflows of US$9.3mn as platinum price reached its lowest level in 6 years. Palladium ETPs saw US$1mn of inflows, following its 8.0% rally. Lower platinum prices could hurt platinum miners’ economic sustainability further. With the global average cash costs of production at US$1,209/oz. (GFMS), maintaining current levels of production is difficult and we could see the supply deficit deepen this year.
Key events to watch this week. US non-farm payrolls data will be closely scrutinized as the Fed’s next move is ever more dependent on signs of labour market strength. Official Chinese PMI’s will help confirm whether the weakness in the Caixin numbers were an aberration or a trend.