Citigroup's Morse: Most Commodities Will Slide in 2014

Thursday, 26 Dec 2013 07:02 AM

By Dan Weil

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Next year will feature weakness for most commodity prices amid sluggish demand and surplus supply, says Ed Morse, head of commodities research for Citigroup.

Commodities soared during the 2000s in what came to be known as the commodities supercycle.

"The period of high prices led to an incredible — in fact, a record — amount of investment on the supply side," Morse tells CNBC.

"So, we're having significantly more supply across most commodities, and demand is not rising at the rate it was."

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For example, demand is slumping in China, Morse notes. "China's not falling apart. But the fact is that China growing at 7 to 7.5 percent is not like China growing at 10 to 12 percent."

China accounts for about half of global demand for thermal coal and copper, he explains. Combine the reduced demand with higher supply, "and the result is much more production capacity, much more inventories and a weighing down of prices across most commodities," Morse states.

To be sure, "there are bright spots on the commodity horizon," such as platinum and palladium for next year, he says.

"Palladium is our favorite because there's a limited amount of supply and growing demand."

Mark Haefele, global head of investment at UBS Wealth Management, and Chris Wright, cross-asset strategist, offer a bearish long-term view of commodities on the Financial Times' FT Alphaville blog.

"Over the next five years, our financial models show that commodities will generate equity-like volatility of about 18 percent on average with returns of under 2 percent a year," they write.

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