With a booming investor demand for everything from oil to corn, commodities soared to their peak in almost eight years.
Hedge funds have poured into what has been the largest bullish wager in at least a decade on the asset class, a collective gamble that as the economy recovers from the pandemic, government stimulus plus near-zero interest rates will boost demand, create inflation and further weaken the U.S. dollar.
On Monday, the Bloomberg Commodity Spot Index, which measures price changes for 23 raw materials, increased by 1.6 percent to its highest since March 2013. Since achieving a four-year low in March, the gauge has already gained 67 percent.
Copper, which soared above $9,000 a metric ton for the first time in nine years, aided the day’s gains. Oil, though coffee and sugar progressed, also jumped on speculation that global supplies are rapidly tightening.
“Folks who have really ignored commodities for quite a long time are now starting to get positioned,” said Bart Melek, head of commodity strategy at TD Securities. “The implication is that this could go on for a bit. It’s very much a function of expectations of scarcity.”
Earlier this month, JPMorgan Chase & Co. said that commodities seem to have started a new supercycle, a prolonged phase during which prices are well above their long-run trend. That similarly echoes comments from others, such as Goldman Sachs Group Inc. During the past 100 years, resources have undergone four comparable periods.
Usually, the asset class is seen as a strong hedge against inflation, which among investors has become more of a concern recently. JPMorgan analysts led by Marko Kolanovic said on Feb. 10, the commodity rally will be a tale of a “roaring 20s” post-pandemic economic recovery as well as ultra-loose monetary and fiscal policies.
Commodities can also leap as an unintended consequence of the battle against climate change, which threatens to restrict the supply of oil while increasing the need for the metals required to develop the infrastructure for renewable energy and to produce batteries and electric vehicles, they said.
Copper is surging from iron ore to nickel in the middle of a large rally in metals. Since a nadir in March, bellwether industrial commodities have doubled, also driven by increasingly tightening physical markets and expectations for economic growth to bounce back.
“The mega-trends that we see playing out around global population growth, the electrification thematic and the energy transition, all of these bode well for commodity demand over the medium-to-long term,” Mike Henry, the chief executive officer of mining giant BHP Group, said last week in a Bloomberg Television interview.
Swings in goods have a significant effect on the cost of living because they can cover the costs of gasoline, electricity, food and building projects. They also help form trade terms, exchange rates and, eventually, the policies of countries like Canada, Brazil, Chile and Venezuela that rely on commodities.