US Steel (X -1.3%) is downgraded to Underperform from Neutral at Credit Suisse due to relative valuation and expected lower iron ore pricing in H2 2014.
Equity prices, and particularly US Steel, seem to be overlooking recent commodity price weakness as a short-term destock related phenomenon - perhaps not surprising given the 2012 collapse and rebound in iron ore prices - but Credit Suisse believes that, unlike 2012, structural changes to the global ferrous supply/demand balance through mid-year will see commodity prices settle at a lower level in H2 than they did after the 2012 destock shock.
Also, the firm thinks US Steel's relative outperformance vs. international peers including ArcelorMittal (AT) likely is due to EM/DM exposure trade, but the gap will close at some point.
After losing 10% in 2013 while the MSCI World Index of stocks gained 24%, the Dow Jones-UBS Commodity Index made up some ground in January, eking out a small advance while the MSCI index slid 3.7%.
But as rallies go, it was a pretty lame one. The DJ-UBS index's biggest weighting is for natural gas at nearly 14.5%, and gas futures surged 18% amid the coldest January in memory. Spring will come soon though, and then what?
Second in the index weighting is gold which gained 3% in January - not the greatest bounce considering a 29% dive in 2013.
Commodities tied more closely to global economic activity - oil and industrial metals - make up 42% of the sector's weighting and they were pretty much uniformly in the red.
Nearly 8 years after the launch of the PowerShares DB Commodity Tracking Fund (DBC), the firm filed paperwork for an actively managed version of the fund, offering exposure to a diversified set of commodities through futures contracts.
By investing in 14 heavily traded sectors of the commodity market, this fund hopes to hedge against individual sector falls, creating consistent return for investors.
DBC is down about 7.5% this year as equities stole the spotlight in 2013, but with $5.5 billion in assets under management it has considerable stability and did exceedingly well in years where equities fell.
The WSJ shines a light onto "shadow warehouses," a hidden system of facilities that store tens of millions of tons of aluminum, copper, nickel and zinc across the globe for banks, hedge funds and commodity merchants.
The warehouses operate outside the London Metal Exchange's system, are unregulated, and don't provide details of their holdings. As a result, it's unclear how much metal is held in the shadow system. This lack of visibility could cause major price swings.
The WSJ article follows allegations that warehousing companies have artificially boosted the price of metals, particularly aluminum.
Companies that operate metals warehouses include Goldman Sachs (GS), Glencore Xstrata (GLCNF) and JPMorgan (JPM), although the latter is looking to sell its commodities unit.
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