Improving Diversification Profile for Commodities?

November 06, 2014

As they are driven more by supply and demand and less by macroeconomic factors, commodities have historically enjoyed low correlations to other asset classes in an investment portfolio, and are often utilized as a source of diversification. However, the correlations between commodities and other asset classes, such as equities, fixed income, and hedge funds tend to be fluid over time and can change significantly over a market cycle. Our Chart of the Week examines the recent movement in correlations between commodities and the most common constituents of an institutional portfolio: U.S. equities, international equities, bonds, and hedge funds.

The chart above illustrates that in the years leading up to the summer of 2007, rolling 5-year correlations between commodities and other asset classes ranged from as low as -0.07 for fixed income to as high as 0.36 for hedge funds. Correlations spiked after the collapse of Lehman Brothers in September 2008, as macroeconomic conditions took the driver’s seat and pushed correlations to equities and hedge fund strategies upwards over the following years. Recently, though, these correlations have started to retreat towards pre-recession levels, with correlations generally decreasing since July 2013. Given this downward trend, the correlations between commodities and other asset classes make a better case for the asset class and its diversification benefits now than it did a few years ago.

The opinions expressed herein are those of Marquette Associates, Inc. (“Marquette”), and are subject to change without notice. This material is not financial advice or an offer to purchase or sell any product. Marquette reserves the right to modify its current investment strategies and techniques based on changing market dynamics or client needs.

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