ETP Weekly: Precious Metals and Cyclicals Continue to Diverge

Flows into Oil ETPs continued at the highest rate in four years. As the price of Brent and WTI oil benchmarks fell a further 6.5% and 5.2% respectively as more investors were drawn to bargains…..

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ETF Securities Research

Precious metals traded higher as the Swiss National Bank shocked the market with a surprise move to abandon the Swiss Franc’s cap against the Euro. Gold played true to its reputation as a hedge against the unexpected, gaining 3.6% over the week. With the World Bank lowering its GDP growth forecasts for 2015, industrial metal prices fell across the board as concerns over demand dragged down their performance. Lower input costs, with falling energy prices, have helped pull down the price of industrial metals.

Weekly oil ETP inflows highest in four years. Long Brent oil ETPs received US$103.4mn of inflows last week, the highest since March 2011, while Long WTI oil ETPs gained US$147.5mn of inflows, the highest since May 2010. Last week saw the 16th and fifth consecutive week of inflows into WTI and Brent ETPs respectively highlighting that investors are undeterred by continued falling prices. On Friday the IEA cut its non-OPEC supply growth for 2015 on the back of the price fall, and claimed that it will “raise the call” on OPEC to trim production in the second half of 2015 to an average of 29.8 mb/d, just under the official target of 30 mb/d. Oil prices reacted positively to these forecasts at the end of the week. The spread between Brent and WTI narrowed last week with WTI temporarily trading higher than Brent driven by the speed at which both supply and demand are likely to respond more quickly in the US than elsewhere. We, like the IEA believe that non-OPEC production cuts will be the necessary catalyst for OPEC cuts in the latter half of 2015.

Silver, often regarded as a leveraged play on gold was a key beneficiary of the SNB’s shock moves on Thursday. Silver prices gained 4.6% over the week. Inflows of US$114.9mn into ETF Physical Silver (PHAG) were at their highest since February 2014.
Most of those flows came before Thursday’s currency turmoil. The gold to silver price ratio had risen to a multiyear high at the end of 2014, highlighting silver’s relative attractive price as an insurance asset. Interest in hedge-assets has recently increased with the VIX and IVSTOXX showing a marked increase. With Greece going to the polls on Sunday, the market is bracing itself for further discourse in Europe.

Flows into long copper ETPs rose to the highest level in 4 weeks after a price capitulation drove bargain hunters to the red metal. While there were multiple reasons for the 8% decline in copper prices last week including the bearish World Bank growth forecasts and selling by Chinese funds at illiquid times of the day, there was only US$0.5mn of inflows into ETFS Daily Short Copper (SCOP) whereas US$4.8mn flowed into long copper ETPs. Some investors believe we are closer to the bottom in copper prices with demand weakness fully priced-in and the potential for another year of supply deficits ahead.
Although the International Copper Study Group has forecast supply surpluses at the beginning of the past two years, we have ended the year in deficit. We could have a déjà vu moment again in 2015.

Key events to watch this week. China’s GDP figures will be closely watched to assess the strength of demand from the world’s largest consumer of commodities. The European Central Bank is widely expected to announce full-blown quantitative easing this week after years of resisting following the US on this path. Discussion of the modalities of the programme will no doubt drive asset price rallies – the direction dependent on how inclusive or restrictive the programme will be.


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