Views on commodities and energy
from Global Investing:
Investors smelling profits in commodities are using the sector as an early cycle play, alongside equities, because a lack of production capacity means higher prices sooner rather than later.
Historically, prices of natural resources lag equities, which typically front run the economic cycle by between 18 to 24 months. The change is also partly due to the tumbling dollar, a major driver in recent weeks.
The natural resources sector is also one of the last to price in economic expansion. But not this time.
Global capacity utilisation rates in petroleum products and mining between 2002 and 2007 averaged more than 90 percent. Analysts estimate those levels fell to 80 percent -- still very high -- in July 2009.
Oil prices have been trading in an unusually strong positive correlation with equities markets over the past few months on hopes that signs of an economic recovery could mean a boost for energy demand.
But with oil and product inventories swelling and little sign of demand improving in the United States and other big developed economies, analysts warn that the linkage may be hard to maintain, especially if U.S. motorists cut back on vacations this summer.
The correlation between oil prices and the dollar seen since the third quarter of 2007 has weakened. Investors had sold the dollar as U.S. economic prospects dimmed and bought oil as a hedge against inflation and uncertainties in the supply of raw materials. The relationship eased late last year as fundamental pressure from slumping demand and the slowdown of the overall economy pushed oil lower independent of the actions of the dollar, and analysts said the link might not return in the near term.