Commodity stocks hit by perfect storm

Goldminer Newcrest Mining slumped to a 10-year low this week, pulled down by a broader slump in gold and other commodity prices.

Goldminer Newcrest Mining slumped to a 10-year low this week, pulled down by a broader slump in gold and other commodity prices.

Key commodities markets have been spooked by US central bank plans to wind back its money printing program, weak Chinese manufacturing data and fears of a credit crunch in the world's second largest economy.

Gold, silver and copper slid, as did iron ore stocks such as Fortescue Metals and Rio Tinto, although iron ore prices bucked the trend.

According to investment bank UBS, copper fell to its lowest level in 20 months due to "further evidence that the economy of top metals consumer China is slowing, as well as the US Fed's intention to begin scaling back stimulus measures later this year".

Gold dropped as low as $US1269 an ounce this week and despite recovering to about $US1300, was still well down on a weekly measure. Australian goldminers will be partly protected due to the corresponding fall in the local currency.

"The worst of the current round of decline is probably behind us as gold prices may stabilise and rebound," Jeffrey Christian, managing partner at CPM, told Bloomberg. "It's going to be very important to see in the next few days how enthusiastic investors are. If they signal they are waiting for still lower prices, that will be a very negative signal."

Charlie Aitken at Bell Potter said "commodities and commodities currencies faced the perfect storm of a resurgent US dollar and increasing concerns about the health of the Chinese economy".

He declared the commodity super cycle as "dead, buried, gone".

"I continue to tell you to broadly avoid resource stocks because commodity prices are going to fall more than the Australian dollar," he wrote in a note.

"Right here, right now, we have signs of stress in the Chinese banking system, consistently weak Chinese economic data and a resurgent US dollar.

"That is a terrible combination for commodity equities, when you then add in commodity prices in meltdown. "In my experience it is all but impossible to make money in commodity equities with commodity prices falling. It's that simple."

ANZ economist Mark Pervan said commodities leveraged to China - except iron ore - were pressured by softer manufacturing data and concerns over credit conditions.

"China's HSBC Flash manufacturing print for June was much weaker than expected. The series fell to 48.3 against expectations of little change in the month to 49.1," he said.

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