Material Matters: Iron Ore, Oil & Preferred Small-Cap Gold Stocks

Commodities | Aug 03 2022

A glance through the latest expert views and predictions about commodities: Upside for large-cap iron ore miners; a potential turning point for oil prices, and preferred ASX gold developers and explorers.

-Positive catalysts for large-cap iron ore shares
-Citi sees a turning point for high oil prices
-Preferred ASX-listed gold developers and explorers

 

By Mark Woodruff

Positive catalysts for large-cap iron ore shares

Citi prefers iron ore exposures over base metals in the short term and believes large-cap ASX-listed iron ore miners can outperform.

The preference for iron ore is based upon a range of factors including different monetary settings in the US and China. 

While the US (self-sufficient in iron ore) is facing tight monetary conditions, China’s monetary policy is easing and is set to ease further, which will ultimately benefit steel production/consumption and iron ore demand, assesses the broker. China accounts for nearly 70% of seaborne iron ore demand.

China port inventories of iron ore have fallen from recent highs, note the analysts, and represent a relatively low 3.4 weeks of steel production cover.

Despite recent property woes, Citi also points to a positive turn in China’s property demand-supply rate of change, which has historically been a good lead indicator of iron ore pricing. Additionally, the broker’s China Monetary Conditions Indicator, a good six-month lead indicator for China’s broad-based industrial activity, registered 18% growth in June.

Moreover, Citi strategists point to a breakdown of the historical correlation between the Australian dollar and commodity prices, whereby the exchange rate is currently around -20% below where it would typically trade. 

On top of this currency tailwind for Australian mining companies, the strategists forecast a lower oil price for the fourth quarter of 2022 of US$73/bbl, which is expected to help moderate cost pressures. Over the same time period, iron ore prices are expected to rally back to US$125/t.

Due to an overall correction in commodity prices in July, Citi points out the Resources sector, dominated by Buy-rated BHP Group ((BHP) and Rio Tinto ((RIO)), along with the Neutral-rated Fortescue Metals Group ((FMG)), underperformed the Australian stockmarket in July.

South32 ((S32)) has been sold down given its lack of “defensive” iron ore exposure, and Citi suggests the company is now trading on an attractive multiple. Last week the broker set a $4.60 target price, while retaining its Buy rating.

Citi sees a turning point for high oil prices

Citi sees a potential turning point for low oil inventories and currently high oil prices.

Both Brent and WTI crude prices have been coming off, and the broker expects ongoing supply growth for the remainder of the year to outpace weak demand, and drive inventories higher.

After a fall in production in reaction to the outbreak of war in the Ukraine, Russian oil production looks to be rising again, and exports of crude and products are holding up longer than Citi had expected. This recovery reflects ongoing adjustment to new trade routes, such as Russian oil moving en masse to China and India, or, for example, diesel moving to Brazil.

Moreover, the second half of 2022 should see new drilling reassert itself in aggregate US oil production numbers, while OPEC is continuing to add supply, observe the analysts.

Non-OPEC growth is also adding to the broker's overall forecast production in 2022 and 2023, via contributions from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Guyana, Mexico, and Norway.


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