Still Awaiting a Comeback: Fossil fuels, metals and agriculture continue to disappoint
- September 1, 2017: Vol. 4, Number 9

Still Awaiting a Comeback: Fossil fuels, metals and agriculture continue to disappoint


The global commodities complex climbed out of its 2017 lows during a solid late-June rally, according to a summary from Franklin Templeton Investments. The firm based its report on measures provided by the benchmark Thomson Reuters/CoreCommodity CRB Index (CRB).

The CRB has fallen about 9 percent from its 2017 peak in mid-February. Despite overall declines in the first half of 2017, some commodity tailwinds have been blowing, including a weak U.S. dollar, a slow-moving Federal Reserve that has nonetheless resumed its path toward monetary policy normalization, and OPEC’s extension of global crude oil production curtailments. In particular, the U.S. dollar posted its biggest quarterly decline in nearly seven years (–4.7 percent on the Fed’s U.S. Dollar Index) against a basket of rival currencies as the Fed lifted interest rates and hawkish signals emerged from foreign central banks, portending tighter global monetary policy.

While equities around the world generally rallied, energy sector stocks slumped 6.4 percent on the S&P 500 Energy Index over the April-June span.

Oil: Benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil spot prices declined 9.0 percent in the second quarter (to $46.04 per barrel) but also recorded their strongest rally of 2017 to close out June, after U.S. producers appeared to curtail their drilling activity and government data showed a sharp drop in U.S. gasoline supplies as summer demand picked up.

Natural gas: Despite rising export demand and occasional spikes from spring heat waves that stimulated electricity demand for cooling, U.S. natural gas futures logged their largest second-quarter loss since 2013 (–5.0 percent, to $2.94 per million BTUs) on speculation that North America’s July weather might not be warm enough to boost demand for power-plant fuel and reduce the high inventory levels.

Precious and industrial metals: Gold posted its first monthly decline of 2017 in June (–2.2 percent in the spot market, to $1,242 per troy ounce) as investors showed a preference for global equities, and it ultimately declined 0.6 percent for the second quarter, given a tepid March gain and nearly flat results in April. Prices have risen 7.7 percent in 2017. Among the other major precious metals, only palladium advanced (+5.7 percent, to $844 an ounce). All five other major industrial metals tracked by the London Metal Exchange Index saw modest declines after rallying in early 2017.

Agricultural products: Overall, agriculture prices have been on the rise since February, sending a key index climbing to its highest level since August 2015, but the gains have been uneven and attributed largely to improving supply/demand dynamics for livestock and related products.


Excerpted from Commodities Overview: 2Q17 by Franklin Templeton Investments. To read the full report, go to:

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