2013 was undoubtedly a rough year for commodities, particularly for precious metals like gold and silver. There were, however, some bright spots in the space, including cocoa, soybean meal, orange juice, gasoline, and brent. For the coming year, analysts remain rather pessimistic on the broad commodity market. Goldman Sachs analysts have noted: “Last year, we pointed to the ongoing shift in our commodity views, ultimately towards downside price risk. The impact of supply responses to the period of extraordinary price pressure continues to flow through the system.” [For more commodity news and analysis subscribe to our free newsletter].
Considering the nature of the commodity market, prices can quickly change in either direction. Below, we take a look to see how the worst performing commodities of 2012 fared in 2013 (note that all data is as of December 17, 2013):
Coal Continues to Struggle
In 2012, coal was one of the worst performers in the commodity space. The Market Vectors Coal ETF (KOL), which tracks the Stowe Coal Index of leading coal producers in the United States and also globally, was down roughly 30%, while The Dow Jones U.S. Coal Index slumped 40%.
This year, the fossil fuel has fallen roughly 20%. The EIA cites low natural gas prices, weak electricity demand growth, and several regulations as the primary factor for the commodity’s decline.
Coffee Takes Another Hit
Last year, coffee futures slid roughly 30%, mostly due to a significant increase in supply. In 2013, the commodity dropped another 30% as ample supplies continue to put downward pressure on coffee. In November of 2013, coffee hit its seven-year low [see The 5 Worst Commodities of 2013].
Natural Gas Makes a Turnaround
Natural gas was undoubtedly one of the most frustrating commodities in 2012, as prices plummeted to historic lows during the year. In 2013, however, the fuel managed to gain roughly 6%. The EIA expects the Henry Hub price (spot) will average $3.69/MMBtu for the year, compared with $2.75/MMBtu in 2012. Henry Hub prices are expected to rise to an annual average of $3.78/MMBtu in 2014.
A Not So Sweet Year for Sugar
Last year, raw sugar prices declined roughly 12%, primarily due to increased supply levels. In 2013, the commodity dipped more than 20%, though in October, prices rose to six-month highs on signs of lower production in Brazil – the world’s biggest sugar producer [see The Top 5 Commodities of 2013].
Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.