Six consecutive weeks of flows into long gold and oil ETPs highlight investors’ concern over geopolitical events. The US Defense Secretary declared the terrorist group, Islamic State, to be the most dangerous threat that the US has faced in years. A growing sense that the conflict in the Middle East will be a long, drawn-out affair has led investors to expand their holdings of defensive assets. However, the price of gold fell last week, as policy setters at the central banks of the UK and US appear to be more open to raising interest rates.
With US$35.0mn of inflows last week, ETF Securities long gold ETPs have seen their longest stretch of consecutive positive flows since October 2012. The sixth week of inflows, despite modest price performance, highlights the extent to which sentiment towards gold has changed since last year when investors in ETPs and futures markets were abandoning the metal in droves. Investors are rebuilding the hedges into their portfolios after having taken them off in 2013.
Long WTI ETP inflows rise to US$17.0mn, the highest in four months, while short WTI ETPs see their largest outflow since November 2013. While Brent ETPs have been the main beneficiary of rising geopolitical risk, seeing 11 consecutive weeks of inflows, WTI ETPs are gaining favour as the price of the benchmark remains relatively cheap. WTI has seen five consecutive weeks of price declines as inventories remain well above the 5-year average. However, the market could tighten with OPEC and the EIA expecting demand to pick up and US inventories last week fell substantially more than forecast.
ETFS Corn (CORN) sees highest inflow since March 2014. Bargain hunting drove US$4.6mn of inflows into the ETP as expectations of record yields and production have beaten the price down to the lowest since 2010. However, with near-perfect conditions completely priced-in, a small disruption to weather conditions could drive prices upwards.
ETFS Wheat (WEAT) continued to see its 14th consecutive week of inflows, attracting US$0.6mn last week as the price of wheat gained 1.7%. Wheat prices are also close to their lowest since 2010, driven by expectations of a bumper crop in the US. Last week however, Ukraine finally confirmed that conflict affected regions will not be able to export as much as normal and a poor crop is expected in France, which will both help tighten the global market.
Profit taking drives flows out of platinum group metal (PGM) ETPs. With year-to-date gains of 22.5% and 4.6% for palladium and platinum, respectively, many investors feel like the best of the rally is over. Although platinum fell 3.3% last week, reports of mine closures in Zimbabwe and rising Chinese imports toward the end of the week, could reverse the downtrend. We believe that platinum will rise faster than palladium in coming months, allowing the metal to narrow the recent underperformance. US$105.8mn and US$34.3mn flowed out of ETFS Physical Palladium (PHPD) and ETFS Physical Platinum (PHPT), respectively.
Key events to watch this week. Euro area unemployment and inflation data will be closely watched as the market tries to guess the pace at which the European Central Bank will loosen its policy setting. The second estimate of US Q2 GDP if unchanged or higher, could help consolidate the US dollar’s strength, which would typically weigh on commodity prices.