Commodity Outlook


Unearthing Opportunities in Metals and Mining


Commodities Cycles

1. In the early 2000s, the commodities super cycle began as surging Chinese demand pulled forward the equivalent

2. From 2009 to 2013,the super cycle was amplified by inexpensive credit allowed mining companies to increase capital expenditure to build new mines and meet the demand eruption.

3. In the latter half of 2014, the new supply paradigm unexpectedly met with a slowdown in Chinese demand, catching many investors off guard


The biggest concern is the unknown timeline of China’s demand curtailment.
Credit driven stimulus to fund fixed asset investment is nearing an end, given

  1. total leverage in China represents roughly 250% of GDP
  2. incremental credit expansion is having a less meaningful impact on the economy [1]

4. In 2015, expectation of rising rates in the U.S. contributed to a stronger dollar during the period, adding to volatility and pressure in commodities.

  • Elevated dollar strength pushed down currencies in many emerging market countries where miners operate, and lower local costs incentivized increased production. [2]
  • When metal prices began to decline as a result, the capital expenditure began eroding balance sheets.

Industrial Metals¹ & the U.S. Dollar²: An Inverse Relationshipmetals-usd-correlation-graph-01-625px

Ratings Actions by Moody’s: U.S. Metals & Mining Sector : deteriorating fundamentalsup-down-grades-graph-04-625px


Iron ore

Miners of iron ore have a tendency to push production by adding additional capacity in order to reduce unit cost. This dynamic leads to oversupplied markets and downward price pressure.iron-ore-steel-pricing-graph-02-625px

The balance of the year for U.S. producers looks brighter in light of

  1. recent trade case announcements.
  2. high strength steel demand in the automotive and construction markets
    (although weakness remains in the heavy equipment, agricultural and energy markets)

Also opportunity in Australia and New Zealand

  1. As commodity-based economies with strong links to China, further easing by the local central banks to cultivate early sprouts of growth and inflation in the region.


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