The start of 2016 has been a roller coaster for investors.
Global markets had their worst ever start in the first trading days of the year, with the S&P 500 eventually shedding 10.5% by early February. Stocks have rebounded since then, but tension is still in the air with record longs on the VIX Volatility Index.
For this reason, among many others, investors piled into precious metals in Q1 of 2016. Gold finished up an impressive 15.9%, buoyed by record buying in gold ETFs. Meanwhile silver and platinum, which are considered precious metals with more industrial uses, were also up in Q1 to a lesser extent: 9.4% and 6.6% respectively.
Base metals were all over the map in the first few months of the year. Zinc shot up a surprising 20%, though it has been overdue for a bounce-back since hitting five-year lows in 2015. Nickel and copper, however, did not perform as admirably. Nickel was in negative territory (-3.1%) and copper ultimately ended up flat, despite a large rally in February and early March.
The energy sector had no real winners, with WTI crude, natural gas and uranium all ending up in the red. Natural gas was the worst of these with a steep -17% drop as it continues to eye multi-decade lows. Some analysts expect more downward pressure on natural gas now that the quantity of gas in storage is 34.2% higher than the five-year average.
The world’s key agricultural commodities were a mixed bag in terms of performance. Soybeans jumped 4.2% in value, but wheat (1%) and corn (-0.3%) only had subtle changes in prices.
With many looming questions for Q2, we’re sure that our next quarterly update will be just as eventful. Concerns around a potential Brexit, negative interest rates, stagnating manufacturing and a potential U.S. rate hike could make for a particularly interesting time period.