The Federal Reserve drove global macro sentiment this week by preparing the markets for the end of years of stimulus, but the dollar remained too strong for commodity speculators’ comfort.
In fact, commodity prices remained on the defensive, taking both shares of commodity producers and the currencies of commodity-rich countries down with them. A stronger-than-expected U.S. currency naturally puts additional pressure on the price of oil, gold, grain and other raw materials priced around the world in dollar terms.
Aluminum, copper and iron ore spent much of the week looking especially fragile, but by Friday afternoon oil prices were back up around $100 a barrel. Wheat markets were also quick to rebound.
Brazilian stocks dipped another 0.7%. Still, both of the country’s commodity-driven heavyweight stocks, Petrobras (NYSE:PBR) and Vale (NYSE:VALE), bounced as traders reconsidered last week’s panicked flight from these shares in the light of new earnings.
Stocks in Russia plunged another 2.2% on concerns that prolonged capital flight from Moscow was now translating into slowing economic growth. A mid-week rally was not enough to boost sentiment, but it did give traders some technical comfort.
India, stocks went back into retreat, falling 1.1% on the prospect that inflation — and politically sensitive food inflation in particular — will force Delhi to keep raising interest rates.
Chinese stocks ended the week down 0.4%. Both the domestic economy and more export-oriented solar names like Trina Solar Limited (NYSE:TSL) disappointed, while the high-profile Web group remained controversial. More fundamentally, any stock exposed to Chinese construction — including Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE:CAT) — was punished, perhaps unfairly.