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      Geopolitical Risk Looms Over Commodity Markets

      Geopolitical Risk Looms Over Commodity Markets

      1. Q1 markets presented mixed signals, with some indices and metals outperforming others.
      2. Geopolitical concerns remain elevated, likely to inject volatility into global markets.
      3. Investors should expect uncertainty and volatility despite upward price trends.

      The start of this year presented mixed signals for the global economy. Prices witnessed the continuation of a strong rally from late February going into March. This helped create a lot of positivity in the metals market and market in general, boosting sentiment regarding a strong, healthy U.S. economy.

      Markets such as the SP500 and the NASDAQ, saw modest gains week over week to deliver the indices’ best February performance since 2015. February economic data, such as payroll figures, GDP, and retail sales, also came in stronger than expected.

      Notable company earnings further fueled optimism within the market. With over 90% of S&P500 companies reporting better-than-expected earnings by February’s end, investor confidence increased, leading to strong buyer support. The tech-heavy NASDAQ also boosted overall market prices to the upside. With increased demand in the AI chip-making industry, strong earnings reports from leading AI chip-makers further bolstered the uptrend in overall markets, including in the metals market.

      This combination of robust corporate earnings and strong economic data also spurred investor optimism for future rate cuts. As most investors saw it, federal monetary policy would significantly impact current market sentiment. Meanwhile, continued disinflation would lead to slower rate hikes, which would help sustain the ongoing performance. However, as of the recent Fed meeting in March, rate cuts are not likely to occur just yet, but rather later this year. This is mainly because March inflation data came in higher than expected.

      Examining Movements in the Metals Market

      In the metals market, recent monthly price action proved remarkably strong. For example, copper futures rose over 8% since their March open price. Meanwhile, gold surged to historically high levels, over 6.5% in March, and silver prices rose over 13%, closing at a yearly high. Indeed, both March CPI data and the recent Federal Open Market Committee meeting helped surge precious metals prices into a robust rally. But unlike copper and other precious metals, base metals like aluminum and nickel saw only modest monthly increases.

      Though volatility wasn’t as strong in these markets for the month, aluminum prices still edged higher due to ongoing supply chain disruptions. Meanwhile, iron ore prices remained relatively flat. The ongoing property market downturn largely disregarded the slight increase in Chinese steel production, capping any major price increases for this market.

      Amidst all of this, the dollar index continued its sideways trend. With a range between 105 and 102, the index has failed to break through support or resistance levels. After the Bank of Japan shifted its monetary policy, the Japanese Yen experienced significant appreciation against the dollar. These speculations mainly rose from expectations that the BoJ would end its negative interest rate policy.

      Going Forward, Global Markets Remain Subject to Numerous Factors

      Overall, Q1 provided a generally mixed picture for markets all around. Some reactions were bullish due to certain indices and metals outperforming others. Investors and industry participants should remain vigilant and informed about the ongoing economic data and geopolitical developments.

      Considering the recent economic data that boosted markets into a rally, navigating current market (and the metals market) conditions could prove difficult. Meanwhile, geopolitical concerns remain elevated, which will likely inject further volatility into global markets over the coming months. Of course, the future trajectory for investment and metals markets will continue to depend heavily on a wide variety of factors. Even as prices continue to trade upward, investors should not rule out uncertainty and volatility.The current global tensions and conflict have not caused any recent price volatility throughout March. However, any escalation or development has the potential to disrupt global markets and lead to market uncertainty. Investors and participants should remain vigilant as economic factors such as the Ukraine-Russia conflict and regional unease in the Middle East continue to cast shadows of doubt over global economic stability.

      By Jimmy Chiguil