6Jan 2017

How every commodity performed in 2016 – Why China sent Aussie miners skyrocketing

It was an up and down year for commodities, but things ultimately finished in the black.

The S&P Goldman Sachs Commodity Index (GSCI) climbed 10.1% on the year – it was just enough to edge out the S&P 500, which ended 2016 with a 9.5% return.

WINNERS IN 2016

The biggest winners on the year were base metals and the oil and gas sector.

Courtesy of: Visual Capitalist

The biggest winners on the year were base metals and the oil and gas sector.

Here’s how base metals did:

Base Metal Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 2016
Iron Ore 37.0% -6.2% 6.3% 31.1% 81.0%
Zinc 20.0% 13.1% -3.2% 26.1% 65.7%
Nickel -3.1% 13.9% 11.9% -5.0% 17.3%
Aluminum 3.8% 7.2% 1.4% 4.0% 17.3%
Copper 0.1% 3.9% -0.5% 13.1% 17.1%

Iron ore and zinc were the best performing commodities on the face of the planet in 2016. Iron finished up 81%, its first calendar gain in four years. Meanwhile, zinc shot up 65.7% on the year as major zinc mines shut down, and supply stockpiles dwindled.

Oil and gas also posted a major comeback in 2016:

Energy Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 2016
Natural gas -17.0% 53.3% -2.7% 28.0% 58.5%
Oil (Brent) 0.6% 35.1% -1.2% 13.6% 52.4%
Oil (WTI) -3.2% 37.3% -2.1% 11.4% 44.9%

It was a volatile year overall, but it appears that the worst of the downturn in energy prices is over.

LOSERS IN 2016

Not all energy-related commodities could be so lucky.

Uranium continued its epic nosedive, losing -41.6% on the year. U3O8 now trades for $20.25/lb, a tiny fraction of its previous highs of over $100/lb in 2007.

Energy Losers Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 2016
Uranium -16.0% -7.4% -12.0% -14.7% -41.6%
Coal 0.5% -9.3% 1.3% 0.0% -7.7%

Coal has also performed abysmally, at least in North America where CAPP prices finished down on the year -7.7%. We previously showed the decline of coal in three charts, and it seems that coal will likely continue to be an unpopular choice for utility companies in the U.S. and Canada.

That said, it is worth mentioning that Australian coal prices went bonkers earlier this year due to a Chinese administrative oversight.

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