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Supply-side concerns drive commodity market higher in July

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Commodity performance was positive in July as deteriorating crop conditions in the US Midwest pushed grains prices higher. 



Nelson Louie, global head of commodities in Credit Suisse’s asset management division, says: "Weather was a key driving factor pushing the index higher in July, with the primary beneficiaries being grains and natural gas. Weather will likely continue to be a key idiosyncratic factor driving these components in the near future. Meanwhile, more economically sensitive commodities, like base metals, will continue to be focused on macroeconomic factors. Economic readings for the US and China were mixed and suggested slowing growth. This, along with continued economic malaise in much of Europe, suggests further monetary easing measures may be likely."

Christopher Burton, senior portfolio manager for the Credit Suisse Total Commodity Return Strategy, adds: "However, inflation expectations remain anchored near historic levels with markets focused more on weak economic conditions than on the eventual impact of prolonged, exceptionally loose monetary policy on inflation.  This may lead to inflation overshooting expectations if economic activity begins to pick up more robustly than expected. Commodities have historically tended to outperform during periods of higher than expected inflation. Traditional asset classes, including equities and fixed income, may be impacted differently by these risks. This should continue to drive short term cross-asset correlations lower. We believe investors will continue to benefit from the long-term diversification benefits that commodities provide."

The Dow Jones-UBS Commodity Index Total Return was up by 6.47 per cent in July.  Overall, 14 out of 20 index constituents posted positive returns. Agriculture was the best performing sector, up 14.29 per cent for the month.

An exceptionally warm and dry start to the summer in the US Midwest remained as the driving force behind grains performance. Corn, up 28.33 per cent, was the top performer in the index as the new crop entered the key pollinating and yield-setting period amid challenging weather conditions. 

Energy increased, gaining 7.90 per cent, led by natural gas. Crude oil and refined petroleum products were also higher amid fears that Iran was planning on disrupting supplies. Iranian crude oil exports continued to decline under the weight of the European embargo and US sanctions. 

The precious metals sector was relatively unchanged, up 0.52 per cent, supported by the European Central Bank’s pledge to protect the Eurozone and hopes for fresh stimulus in the US, but yet held back by doubts that serious efforts would be undertaken in the near future. 

Livestock ended the month 2.02 per cent lower, weighed down by sharply higher grain prices. 

Industrial metals decreased 2.48 per cent as ongoing demand concerns due to macroeconomic weakness and uncertainty weighed on the sector.

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