NEW YORK, NEW YORK, U.S. — The Bloomberg Commodity Index Total Return decreased in August with 19 of 23 constituents posting losses, including Livestock and Agriculture.
Livestock decreased 8.86% as escalating trade tensions between the United States and China diminished the probability of higher U.S. pork exports to China.
Agriculture fell 5.05%, led lower by Kansas City Wheat, as strong crop yield forecasts for Ukraine’s 2019 wheat harvest increased global competition for U.S. supply.
Nelson Louie, global head of commodities for Credit Suisse Asset Management, said the trade war between the United States and China is starting to take its toll.
“The U.S.-China trade war worsened in mid-August with another bout of import taxes scheduled to take place in three waves between now and December,” he said. “There is a possibility that the latter rounds may be scaled back or eliminated as both administrations indicated their intentions to meet in autumn to continue negotiations.
“The U.S. administration also made symbolic statements toward negotiating in good faith at the recent Group of 7 Summit in France. Any meaningful move toward a resolution would likely impact commodity prices as exports of U.S. agricultural goods may improve and industrial demand for base metals may rise.
“The potential for supply shocks in key commodity-producing regions such as the Middle East also remain despite some indications during the month that more diplomatic means of negotiation would return between the U.S. and Iran.”
Christopher Burton, senior portfolio manager for the Credit Suisse Total Commodity Return Strategy, said the trade war appeared to finally impact the U.S. economy, as second-quarter GDP slowed in comparison to the first-quarter’s reading and as the PMI August reading fell to slightly below 50 for the first time since 2009.
“As a global slowdown takes hold and central bankers prepare for a moderating pace of global growth, the focus has slightly shifted to what stage the markets are in within the current business cycle,” he said. “Many central banks have committed to trying to stimulate growth through more rate cuts and stimulus measures.
“China revealed that it may allow local governments to issue new bonds to support infrastructure investments. Supportive monetary and fiscal measures from various countries around the world may help economies soften the negative impacts from the slowing of international trade and consequently spur demand.”