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Oil and gold remain top trades as bargain hunting drives flows



Research by ETF Securities

ETF SecuritiesGold and oil ETPs both respectively saw their 9th consecutive week of inflows. The price of gold and oil has fallen in recent weeks, in part reflecting a reduction in the geopolitical premium following a ceasefire agreed by Ukraine and Russia. Bargain hunting investors have chosen to increase their holdings of oil with its price looking particularly attractive, with both Brent and WTI oil benchmarks trading below US$100/bbl. We believe OPEC is likely to cut production if demand for oil continues to remain weak, which will in turn help support prices. Despite weakness in gold prices, investors have generally maintained holdings over the past few months. Daily flow data however indicates that some investors are losing patience with gold in recent days and its weak price could test the endurance of some investors if the relatively stable geopolitical situation lasts.

ETF commodity flowsBargain hunting drove US$7.4mn into long oil ETPs, marking the longest stretch of weekly inflows since 2012. Although bets weren’t completely one-sided, with US$2.7mn of inflows into short oil ETPs, many investors are doubtful that the current weakness in oil price can persist. Weak global demand for oil products this summer, combined with the limited impact of geopolitical risks on OPEC and Russian oil supply sent both Brent and WTI prices to multi-month lows. With production reaching multi-decade highs, US oil inventories had remained above its 5-year range until very recently and stockpiles at Cushing have been slowly rebuilding. While Chinese oil imports and the US summer driving season have not been as supportive of oil demand as expected, the US Energy Information Agency (EIA) is forecasting a supply deficit for the second half of 2014 and OPEC is anticipating a pick-up in global oil demand during the remaining months of 2014. Should that pick-up in demand not materialise, we believe that OPEC will cut production from its current target of 30mb/d.

Long wheat ETPs saw their 17th consecutive week of inflows as investors mounted bets on a less bearish USDA report. After months of successive production and stock upgrades, some investors thought that last Thursday’s World Agricultural Demand and Supply Estimate report would show some stabilisation. It turns out that they were disappointed. The price of wheat fell 4.2% last week alone and is now trading at the lowest level since 2010. With wheat priced for perfect growing conditions, any small hiccup in weather in major producing countries or an escalation in trade restrictions could drive a price rally. More bargain hunting is likely with prices at multi-year low levels.

Concern over China and supply prompted another week of outflows in industrial metal ETPs, marking the largest cumulative four week outflow since May 2013. Last week, US$9.1mn was redeemed from ETFS Industrial Metals (AIGI) basket and most long industrial metal ETPs saw outflows. Long copper ETPs in particular saw US$18.6mn of outflows. Industrial metal prices declined as jitters over the health of Chinese demand troubled investors and the probability of the Philippines following Indonesia’s lead in banning ore exports has lessened. By the end of the week, however, China reported strong credit growth for the past month, which should go a long way to ease concerns about its ability to drive demand for commodity-intensive house building and infrastructure construction.

Key events to watch this week. The Federal Reserve’s FOMC meeting will be the focus of market attention. The US central bank is expected to continue to taper its bond-buying programme at the current rate, which will only leave another meeting (after this week’s) before it announces a stop to more purchases. After a disappointing US payrolls report, the market will watch out for any changes in forward guidance that could signal rate changes slower than current market expectations.

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