If increasing evidence that the Malaysian airliner downed in Ukraine was shot by ground-to-air missiles by separatists using equipment supplied by Russia is confirmed, the conflict is likely to escalate to the next level…
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with greater focus from the international community. While some of the ‘crisis premium’ in gold has dissipated in recent weeks, recent developments indicate that last week’s tragedy may drive demand for safe haven assets such as gold higher. Even if Russia reduces its immediate support for separatists due to concerns that the downing of the passenger jet will stoke an international backlash against the country, we are likely to see tensions remain high as Europe’s politicians are forced to join the US in taking a more aggressive stance against Russia.
Investors buying gold and oil ETPs on price dips. As the price of gold and oil fell in the first half of last week (before the tragedy in Ukraine), investors bought US$13mn of physical gold ETPs and US$26mn of ETFS Brent (OILB). Flows into OILB were at their highest in five weeks. Although the price of Brent fell most of last week, doubts about the speed at which Libya can ramp up production led investors to go long. Now, with the conflict in Ukraine possibly entering into a new phase, we could see demand for both commodities rise further. Gold is seen as a haven asset. And fears of more aggressive sanctions against Russia if it is implicated in the atrocity could tighten crude oil supplies.
China’s stimulus success drives demand for industrial metals. Last week we saw US$9.5mn of inflows into ETFS Industrial Metals (AIGI). That brings the monthly flow into the broad industrial metals ETP to US$52.5mn, the highest since its inception in 2006. Last week China announced its Q2 2014 GDP figures which hit 7.5% q-o-q annualised, beating consensus expectations and leaving forecasts of significant metal supply surpluses for this year in doubt. Aggregate financing data for China also released last week showed a 40% rise in June over May (90% over June 2013), highlighting the firepower flowing into the economy. In the first quarter of this year, real estate activity was somewhat muted as local government officials were reluctant to draw attention to their expansion plans amid a far-reaching probe into corruption by the central government. However, Premier Li Keqiang has reminded local leaders of their “inescapable responsibility” and has lambasted them for believing “doing nothing is better than doing something”, likening that frame of mind to a form of corruption itself. We expect infrastructure and house building to pick up during the course of this year, driving the demand for commodities such as industrial metals higher.
Wheat ETPs see US$8.5mn of inflows. We have seen nine consecutive weeks of inflows into long wheat ETPs despite the price having fallen continually for most of that period. Investors have built positions in the hope that the large surpluses forecasted by the USDA prove to be wrong which could lead to the next price rally. The crisis premium built into wheat had fallen over the past few months as it was clear that conflict in Ukraine had not affected shipments of wheat from the Black Sea region (the Former Soviet Union produces about 35% of global supplies). The recent events may ignite those fears once again.
Key events to watch this week. Investor focus is likely to remain on the evolving situation in Ukraine. US durable goods orders which fell in May are expected to have recovered lost ground in June. Further signs of strength in the US economy should benefit industrial metals and the PGMs in our view.