The Periodic Table of Commodity Returns
Comment of the Day

January 19 2010

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The Periodic Table of Commodity Returns

Thanks to a subscriber for this table by which may also be of interest to subscribers

Eoin Treacy's view I had not previously seen this type of illustration of commodity performance but it does help to depict the volatility of some sectors relative to others, over the last decade. For example, gold has posted a positive return every year since 2001. Silver, platinum and palladium have posted similar positive returns, with the exception of 2008. The energy complex has been much more volatile. Oil posted a positive or flat return every year from 2002, bar 2008. Natural Gas and Coal have been much more prone to big fluctuations in price.

Oil was one of the better performers last year but coal and natural gas both had negative returns in 2008 and 2009, they theoretically have potential to participate in a catch-up move this year.

Coal has sustained a progression of incrementally higher reaction lows since bottoming in May 2009. Prices spiked higher in the first week of January and have been consolidating that move since. A sustained move above $60 would complete the base and indicate a return to more pronounced demand dominance.

Crude oil topped out relative to natural gas in August 2009 and continues to underperform. Natural gas prices bottomed in September near $2.50 and while the continuation chart has been flattered by the contango, prices have since rallied to test the psychological $6 level. A sustained move below $4 would now be required to question scope for further higher to lateral ranging.

Back to top