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This week’s Chart of the Week examines how the commodities markets have fared since the start of the year. After three years of negative returns driven by relative unattractiveness to equities and fixed income, coupled with declining inflation, commodities began 2014 on a strong foot.
Commodities, as measured by the Dow Jones UBS Total Return Commodity Index, enjoyed four months of consecutive gains and, despite May’s pullback, have advanced by 6.4% so far this year. The strongest growth came from the livestock complex, as the DJ UBS Livestock sub-index benefited from improving supply fundamentals and climbed 12.2% in the first five months of the year. Agriculture has also been strong this year with a gain of 11.9%.
Industrial metals have been the weakest area in 2014. The DJ UBS Industrial Metals sub-index increased by only a modest 0.9% through the end of May. China’s economy, no doubt, has had a negative impact on base metals — concerns over slowing growth in the Chinese economy have weighed on the industrial metals complex. Precious metals have fared slightly better this year with a gain of 1.6%.
Although commodities in aggregate remain below their 2010 levels, their upward momentum thus far provides a positive outlook for investors with commodities exposure.
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