Commodities forecast: Which markets will surge in 2023?
Throughout 2022, the market was observed as a roller-coaster ride. Russia's attack on Ukraine caused most commodities to peak in the first three months of 2022.
However, for much of the rest of the year, synchronised interest rate hikes by central banks to deal with inflation and a slowing Chinese economy caused by the Covid-19 zero policy to combat new cases put downward pressure on commodity prices.
In this article, we look at factors that could shape the market trends in 2023 and some of the latest commodity price forecasts from analysts.
Commodity markets in 2022: quick recap
Most commodity prices began to rise in the second half of 2021, fuelled by pent-up demand as Covid-19 lockdowns were gradually lifted amid a logistical bottleneck and a slow return of supply.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February further bolstered the rally in prices. There were concerns that sanctions would reduce supplies from commodity powerhouse Russia. The country is the world’s second-largest oil exporter after Saudi Arabia and the world’s second-largest natural gas producer after the US. It is also the world’s top exporter of wheat and a major exporter of other commodities, including nickel and lithium.
Some notable price movement following the war in Ukraine was international benchmark Brent crude oil surge to $139 per barrel in early March on talks of the US plans to ban imports of Russian oil.
Natural gas in Europe rose to a record high of €345 megawatts/hour in March. Wheat reached an all-time high of $13.6 per bushel as the Russia-Ukraine war disrupted deliveries from the main Black Sea ports.
On the precious metals front, the conflict in Ukraine briefly elevated gold's status as a safe haven. The price of gold reached $2,000 an ounce in March 2022, but fell short of the all-time high of $2,075 per ounce set in August 2020.
By the second quarter, prices started to fall driven by a number of factors, including:
Developed nations stepped up their tightening cycle to combat soaring inflation.
The Chinese economy slowed as the country imposed new strict lockdowns in response to rising Covid-19 cases, raising concerns over demand.
A strengthening US dollar (USD), bolstered by the Federal Reserve’s hawkish interest rate hikes, dampened global demand as it made commodities more expensive in local currencies.
Most commodity prices had fallen from their March peaks by the end of 2022, but still remained higher than in previous years.
What is your sentiment on Oil - Brent?
Trends to watch out for in 2023
Central banks rate hike to limit upside in first half
Most analysts expect central banks to continue their tightening cycle in the first half of 2023 to combat inflation, before easing the pace of their rate hike or reducing the rate in the second half.
ANZ Research’s Senior Commodity Strategist Daniel Hynes and Commodity Strategist Soni Kumari wrote in a note on 15 December:
On 8 December, Fitch Solutions estimated global gross domestic product (GDP) to slow to 2% in 2023, from 3.1% in 2023. “Developed markets will be hit hard, with a painful recession in the eurozone as well as a light and short recession in the US. Amid such a clouded global backdrop, physical as well as speculative demand for commodities will be capped,” analysts wrote.
The subdued global economic growth could curb demand for crude oil, natural gas and industrial metals. However, the slowing economic growth could bode well for gold as investors look for a haven.
Hynes and Kumari said:
China, the wild card
China's economy has been fully reopened. The lifting of strict restrictions on international travel began on 8 January. Analysts predicted that the reopening would boost the country's economic growth and increase commodity demand, particularly for oil and industrial metals.
ANZ Research forecast China’s economy to grow by 5.4% in 2023, rising from 2.7% in 2022 before slowing to 4% in 2024. Fitch Solutions also expected China’s GDP to accelerate from 3.6% in 2022 to 5% in 2023.
The reopening of China's economy did not come without risks. Concerns have grown that lifting China's travel restrictions could increase the risk of virus mutation, leading to a surge in new cases and prompting further lockdowns.
Fitch Solutions analysts wrote:
The end of the USD rally
The US dollar rallied over 2022 as the Fed’s aggressive monetary tightening policy widened interest rates differentials between the US and other countries. Strengthening the US dollar had partly contributed to boosting inflation in countries whose currencies depreciate against the dollar.
The US Dollar Index (DXY) surged to 20 year-high in 2022. However, some analysts predict that the greenback’s rally has peaked and expect a trend reversal in 2023.
A softening would be supportive of commodities demand, particularly for gold which had been under downward pressure in 2022 as investors dumped non-yield gold for the dollar.
What will commodities’ forecasts look like in 2023?
Analyst price forecasts for key commodities
Fitch Solutions’ commodity price forecast expected Brent to average $95/barrel in 2023 and $88 in 2024, easing from an average of $101.7 in 2022. It suggested WTI could average $93/bbl in 2023 and $87 in 2024, dropping from $94.33 in 2022.
ANZ Research’s commodity outlook for 2023 projected Brent to hold steady at $105 by the end of 2023 through the end of 2024, from $80 in December 2022. It predicted WTI to average $104 by December 2023 and remain unchanged until December 2024, from $75.2 in December 2022.
The World Bank suggested Brent could drop to $92 in 2023 and $80 in 2024, from $100 in 2022.
Bank of America (BofA) Global Research also saw Brent averaging $100 in 2023, falling from $100.65 in 2022; while WTI was expected to drop to $94 in 2023, from $95.99 in 2022.
West Texas Intermediate
According to Fitch Solutions’ natural gas price forecast, US natural gas was expected to trade at $5.90/MMBtu in 2023 and $5.60 in 2024, decreasing from $6.54 in 2023.
The National US Henry Hub was projected to average $6.2/MMBtu in 2023 and $6 in 2024, down from $6.6 in 2022, according to the World Bank’s commodity forecasts. Natural gas in Europe was estimated to average $32/MMBtu in 2023 and $28 in 2024, dropping from $40 in 2022.
As for the price of liquefied natural gas (LNG), the World Bank projected the super-chilled fuel to fall to $17/MMBtu in 2023 and $15.9 in 2024, from $18.4 in 2022.
Fitch Solutions forecast thermal coal to trade at $280/tonne, down from $320/tonne in 2022.
ANZ Research saw the price of power-station coal ease to $325 in December 2023 and $250 in December 2024, from $404.5/tonne as of 15 December 2022 when it released the forecast.
The World Bank’s coal price forecast expected the fuel to reach $240/tonne in 2023 and $212.3 in 2024, compared to $320 in 2022.
According to Fitch Solutions, copper could trade at $8,400/tonne in 2023, down from $8,800.
The World Bank also saw copper prices decline to $7,300 in 2023 from $8,700 in 2022. But the bank expected the metal to rebound to $7,361 in 2024.
BofA expected copper price to average $8,625/tonne in 2023, down from $8,778 in 2022.
Meanwhile, ANZ Research was bullish and expected the metal to rise to $10,000 in December 2023, rising to $12,000 in December 2024, compared to $8,510 in December 2022.
Nickel was also projected to fall to $22,500 in 2023, from $24,250 in 2022, a forecast by Fitch Solutions shows. The World Bank also expected the nickel price to ease to $21,000 in 2023 and $20,708 in 2024 from $24,000 in 2022.
ANZ Research estimated the metal to average $21,500 in December 2022 and $18,000 by December 2022.
However, BofA was more optimistic, expecting nickel to trade at $ 25,625 in 2023, edging up from $25,206 in 2022.
ANZ Research, Fitch Solutions, and BofA were bullish on gold prices in their commodity markets' outlook. Hynes and Kumari of ANZ Research said:
ANZ Research, on the other hand, was bullish on the metal, projecting the bullion to trade at $1,900/oz in December 2023 to December 2024, from $1,810 in December 2022.
BofA also forecast gold to rise to $1,888/oz in 2023, from $1,797 in 2022.
Fitch Solutions predicted gold to trade at $1,850 in 2023, compared to $1,800 in 2022.
The World Bank’s forecast showed a rather bearish outlook, expecting the precious metal to trade at $1,700/oz in 2023, dropping to $1,650 in 2024 compared to $1,770 in 2022
The World Bank expected silver to be steady at $21/oz over 2023 and 2024, largely unchanged from $21.3 in 2022.
BofA was rather bullish, expecting the precious metal to edge up to $23/oz in 2023, from $22 in 2022.
ANZ Research expected silver to rise to $25.33/oz in December 2023 and steady at the level until December 2024, compared to $23.70/oz in December 2022.
Palladium and platinum
According to BofA’s commodity forecast, palladium could trade at $1,865/oz in 2023, down from $2,126. As for platinum, it expected the metal to rise to $1,322/oz in 2023, from $977 in 2022.
ANZ Research also projected palladium to average $2,150 in December 2023, rising from $1,927 in December 2022, before gradually dropping to $1,600 by December 2024. The bank predicted platinum to rise to $1,220/oz in 2023 and $1,300 in 2024, from $1,035 in December 2022. Analysts added:
According to the World Bank’s forecast, wheat could trade at $410/mt in 2023, edging down to $405 in 2024 from $410 in 2022.
Fitch Solutions also projected wheat could fall to $860/mt in 2023, from $933 in 2022. But the grain’s price in 2023 would still be higher than prices in 2018 to 2021, according to the forecast.
In its commodity outlook, ANZ Research predicted wheat to rise to $860/mt by December 2023 from $729 in December 2022. The price of the grain, used to make bread, pastas and noodles, could fall to $710 by December 2024.
In 2023, the coffee price was forecast to reach $1.90/pound, dropping from $2.15/pound in 2022, Fitch Solutions’ commodity forecasts showed.
The World Bank’s commodities forecast saw the higher quality Arabica beans trade $5.5 per kilogram in 2023 and $5.41 in 2024, down from $5.9 in 2022
When looking for commodities forecasts, bear in mind that analysts and algorithm-based predictions can and do get their targets wrong. Many factors could affect commodities’ trends from geopolitical risks, weather, and governments’ policies to the global macroeconomic backdrop.
Commodities' price forecasts should not replace your research. You should always do your due diligence by looking at the latest news, technical and fundamental analysis, and a wide range of commentary.
It should be noted that past performance does not guarantee future results. Never trade money you cannot afford to lose.
How many commodities are there?
There are nearly 30 commodities divided into four main categories: energy, industrial metals, agriculture and precious metals.
Will commodity prices continue to rise?
A number of factors could affect the performance of commodity markets, such as geopolitical risks, weather and governments’ policies.
Are commodities a good investment?
Like any financial asset, commodity markets are volatile. Prices are influenced by many factors, including geopolitical risks, weather and government policies. Whether or not commodities are a good investment depends on your portfolio, your risk tolerance, and your knowledge of the market.
Remember that analysts' and algorithm-based forecasts can be wrong. You should always do your research before investing in commodities.
Markets in this article