Goldman Sees Nickel Rising With Palladium as Iron Ore Drops

Jul 29, 2014 9:49 am ET

(Updates prices in fifth paragraph.)

July 29 (Bloomberg) -- Nickel and palladium are set to outperform iron ore and soybeans as supply outlooks for commodities diverge amid a tentative acceleration in global economic growth, according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

The bank kept its 12-month recommendation for commodities at neutral, analysts including Jeffrey Currie wrote in a report dated yesterday. They expect the total return for the Standard & Poor’s GSCI Enhanced Commodity Index to be 0.1 percent in 12 months helped by positive roll yields.

Citigroup Inc. said last month that interest is returning to the asset class as Societe Generale SA called commodities a “really mixed bag” across the sectors. Raw materials are already trading independently, with a ban on ore exports from Indonesia spurring a rally in nickel, while expectations for a deepening global glut have sent iron ore into a bear market.

“While cyclical recovery tends to see rising commodity demand, prices will likely largely be determined by more structural supply factors,” the Goldman Sachs analysts wrote. “Accordingly, not all boats are expected rise with the tide created by continued improvement in global macroeconomic data.”

Commodities as measured by the enhanced index added 2.4 percent this year as global equities increased 5.6 percent and the Bloomberg U.S. Treasury Bond Index rose 3.5 percent. Shortages are seen nickel, zinc, aluminum and palladium, while most other raw materials including copper, iron ore, oil and soybeans, are expected to be in surplus, Goldman says. Nickel fell 1.2 percent today and palladium advanced 0.4 percent.

Increasing Allocations

“We’ve seen increasing allocations from asset managers this year and some new fund interest come into commodities,” Aakash Doshi, a Citigroup Global Markets vice president in New York, said in a phone interview June 24. “We’ve seen geopolitics and weather really come to the fore this year.”

Societe Generale is overweight agriculture, and energy to a slightly lesser extent, and massively underweight precious metals, according to Michael Haigh, head of commodities research, in a June 17 interview.

While financial markets have reacted favorably to signs of macroeconomic acceleration in both the U.S. and China, with the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index reaching a record, commodity indexes have remained mostly flat on expectations for increases in supplies in most raw materials, the Goldman analysts said. Nickel, zinc, aluminum and palladium do not fit into this view as deficits are predicted over the next three years, they said.

Carry Return

Morgan Stanley also expects nickel, zinc and palladium to advance. While nickel “may have run ahead of itself,” a shortage next year may keep its uptrend intact, analysts including Joel Crane said in a report yesterday. Zinc will continue to outperform as the shortfall intensifies and solid supply and demand fundamentals support palladium, they said.

The S&P GSCI enhanced index has rebounded in 2014 from two years of losses as key markets are in backwardation, a structure where short-term supplies cost more than later deliveries, which has provided so-called positive carry and continued to generate returns, according to Goldman.