Fed stimulus fading as forecasters say best is over

The biggest advances in commodities this year may be over because of mounting concern that policy makers aren’t doing enough to bolster economic growth at a time when producers are expanding supply.

The Standard & Poor’s GSCI gauge of 24 raw materials will end the year at 677, 3.1 percent higher than now, based on the median of 10 investor and analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg. The index is 1.8 percent lower since the European Central Bank announced an unlimited bond-purchase program Sept. 6 and 3.8 percent below its level when the Federal Reserve pledged a third round of debt-buying Sept. 13.

That contrasts with a 92 percent surge from the end of 2008 through June 2011 as the Fed bought $2.3 trillion of debt in two bouts of quantitative easing. The impact will probably be smaller this time, Barclays Plc says. Prices are already in a bull market, the 17-nation euro area is contracting and China has slowed for six straight quarters. Europe and China represent about 60 percent of global copper demand and about 33 percent of crude-oil consumption.

“The investment demand that might be driven by people’s changed perception after Fed action is not going to sustain a further long-term move of the commodity complex,” said Michael Aronstein, the president of Marketfield Asset Management in New York who correctly predicted the slump in prices in 2008 and the rebound in 2009. “The longer you keep prices in all of these sectors elevated, the more supply you recruit.”

Dollar Index

The S&P GSCI rose 1.8 percent this year, heading for a fourth consecutive annual advance. Soybeans and wheat led the gains after the worst U.S. drought since 1956. The MSCI All- Country World Index of equities jumped 12 percent and the U.S. Dollar Index, a measure against six major trading partners, dropped 0.9 percent. Treasuries returned 1.6 percent, a Bank of America Corp. index shows.

Commodity assets under management reached $406 billion at the end of July, from $399 billion at the start of the year, based on Barclays’ estimates of money tied to exchange-traded products, medium-term notes and indexes. Assets reached a record $451 billion in April 2011. Open interest, or contracts outstanding, across the members of the S&P GSCI rose 16 percent this year, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Morgan Stanley is forecasting supply surpluses in aluminum, nickel, zinc and thermal coal in 2013 and Barclays expects a glut in lead for at least a third consecutive year. The rally in aluminum and zinc makes production cuts in China less likely, prolonging excessive production, Macquarie Group Ltd. said in a report Sept. 17.

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