A worker inspects a newly-cast copper anode sheet as it cools in its mold. (Photographer: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg)

Goldman Backs Commodities as Trade War Fury Now Met With Shrugs

(Bloomberg) -- Commodity bull Goldman Sachs Group Inc. says raw materials are poised to gain into the end of the year as investors have now become used to trade-war tensions, growth in top economies remains strong, and consumers who’d put off purchases in recent months start buying again. Copper jumped.

“This week the trade war was escalated and markets shrugged it off with copper rallying,” analysts including Jeffrey Currie said in a note received on Friday and dated Sept. 20. “The reason is the market has already factored in an extended standoff between the U.S. and China.”

Raw materials are heading for the biggest weekly jump since April, aided by gains in metals including copper as well as crude, with Brent nearing $80 a barrel amid concern about dwindling supplies from Iran and Venezuela. The climb comes even as the U.S. pledges more tariffs on $200 billion of goods from China, which kick in on Monday, and Beijing has vowed to retaliate. As those deadlines loom, equity investors propelled Wall Street benchmarks to records on Thursday, including a high for the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

Goldman Backs Commodities as Trade War Fury Now Met With Shrugs

“Growth in the Big Four has not slowed materially,” Goldman said, referring to the U.S., EU, China and India. “Both hard and soft macroeconomic data do not show a material slowdown in Chinese growth.” The bank added that the pace of expansion in the U.S. is “stronger than expected.”

The new mismatch between fiery trade-war rhetoric and gains for raw materials was in evidence on Friday in Asia. While President Donald Trump hit out at China in a late U.S. television interview, saying that it’s “time to take a stand” and signaling the conflict won’t end any time soon, metals surged.

Goldman said the spike in trade tensions earlier this year had prompted some users, especially in China, to defer purchases, and draw down inventories instead. But that de-stocking can last only so long. Physical buyers “are already returning to key markets like oil and copper,” it said.

Copper was among metals hit hard by the initial trade war concerns, sinking to $5,773 a ton in August, the lowest since June 2017. It’s since rebounded amid signs of tightness, including a drop in global stockpiles, and spiked to $6,195 on Friday. Goldman said it’s sticking to a year-end target of $6,500.

It was positive on crude, too. “Oil has the strongest fundamental outlook going forward driven by strong U.S. demand growth, sanctioned losses and other supply disruptions and still constrained U.S. shale production,” Goldman said.

The de-stocking of raw materials “has a physical limit,” it said. In China, that process has “already created significant increases in physical premia for oil and metals -- a sign of physical shortages. This is likely the catalyst the financial markets have been looking for.”

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Jake Lloyd-Smith in Singapore at jlloydsmith@bloomberg.net

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With assistance from Editorial Board