Industrial Metals Could Lift Commodity ETFs

Like many commodities-related exchange traded products, the iShares S&P GSCI Commodity-Indexed Trust (NYSEARCA: GSG), a diversified commodities fund, is struggling this year, but rebounding industrial metals prices could boost GSG as 2017 moves forward.

Industrial metals like copper, nickel, iron and steel have all rebounded in recent months as traders bet on improving global economic conditions would bolster demand for the base metals after prices hit multi-year lows. In recent weeks, the iPath Bloomberg Copper Subindex Total Return ETN (NYSEArca: JJC) has been one of the best-performing commodities ETPs.

Copper prices are benefiting as investors anticipate greater demand out of China and increased infrastructure projects under President Donald Trump.

“Industrial metals have generally outperformed their commodity peers this year, with copper prices hitting a two-year high last week,” said BlackRock in a recent note. “A big reason for the rally: Production has been falling from last year’s levels. This is a result of firms cutting capital expenditures after multi-year price slides. Related stocks have closely tracked metals prices, as the chart above shows.”

The $1.18 billion GSG features exposure to eight commodities. Over 59% of the ETF’s roster is allocated to energy commodities while agriculture and industrial metals commodities combine for over 28%.

“We see signs that reduced supply and increased demand may be more than temporary and are likely to help keep industrial metals prices stable from here. Metals and mining firms have been improving their balance sheets by reducing debt and decreasing investment in additional production capacity. Ongoing supply-side reforms in China, meanwhile, are curtailing overproduction of certain metals,” according to BlackRock.

Related: 17 ETFs to Satisfy Your Gold Fever

A near-term issue for copper is the ability of the Trump Administration to get its ambitious infrastructure efforts off the ground, something many market observers believe will not happen until next year. Additionally, if that effort does not approach the $1 trillion in expenditures promised by the president on the campaign trail, markets could be disappointed.

“On the demand side, we see sustained global economic expansion and relatively healthy demand from China providing support. Our base case: Chinese demand growth should slow only gradually as the country rebalances its economy toward consumption,” notes BlackRock.

For more information on the commodities market, visit our commodity ETFs category.

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