As the global economic rebound gathers momentum, Moody’s Investors Service is raising its near-term price assumptions for an array of metals and mining commodities.
The rating agency announced that it has raised its price assumptions for iron, copper, aluminium and thermal coal, citing “a firmer worldwide economic rebound and restocking.”
As production ramps up to meet growing demand, inventories will build up too, but inventories are currently “generally low compared with past levels,” Moody’s said.
Base metal prices approached record highs in the second quarter of 2021, Moody’s said, noting that “steel prices surged amid recovering demand, higher utilization and product shortages”, boosting iron ore prices in particular.
Precious metals prices remained high in Q2, but still off their historical peaks earlier in 2021, Moody’s noted.
“Copper prices remain strong amid economic recoveries and low inventories,” the report said, noting that the lack of inventory leaves copper markets “fragile and vulnerable to supply disruptions, particularly in large producing countries such as Chile and Peru, which together account for about 40% of world copper production.”
“Presidential elections in Peru and Chile in 2021, and Chile’s plans for drafting of a new constitution as well as labor negotiations there, will influence worldwide copper supplies, possibly creating further temporary price spikes,” it added.
Aluminum prices are also expected to remain elevated in the near-term, but will ease in the medium term as several factors limit demand, “including the slow recovery in the global aerospace sector, an automotive industry facing semiconductor shortages, and continued growth in smelting capacity in China, which accounts for more than 50% of global production and consumption.”
Moody’s said that steel prices will remain elevated in 2021 due to supply and demand imbalances, before gradually declining toward their historical averages as demand eases. That shift will be driven by waning stimulus dollars and a shift in consumption patterns as economic reopening allows consumers to “return to spending on experiences rather than material goods.”
Gold prices are seen remaining high in 2021, too, due to market uncertainty, inflation, and pressure on the U.S. dollar.